Monday, July 15, 2013

Why I Couldn't Finish Reading The Road

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is the shortest McCarthy novel I started and the only one I couldn't finish. The utter bleakness of the post-apocalyptic world McCarthy portrays verges on self-parody. Whatever event extinguished most life on the planet (unspecified in the novel) also seemed to have snuffed out all humor and cheer. The bleakness is all pervasive, like a symphony composed of only minor bass notes. I got tired of it. I might have stuck with it had the writing been as beautiful as in McCarthy's better novels, such as Blood Meridian or All the Pretty Horses. But the chiseled, muscular prose of those novels that could carry a lugubrious story has gone flaccid in The Road. This is McCarthy's The Old Man and the Sea.

I read far enough to know this story had been told before and told far better. I'm speaking, of course, of the film Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. If you can imagine that film shorn of all humor and kick-ass style, you're left with a rather dismal, boring movie. Or a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The Road is so miserable and bleak that it's got to be a serious work of literature. Not.

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