Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pulitzer Project Book Review - The Road - Cormac McCarthy

I promised this review a long time ago. Some of you may have forgotten (or never have known) about it, it's been so long.

Click here for the run-down on the Pulitzer Project.

Click here for the "rules" for participation on this blog (they basically boil down to, "criticize all you like, but be respectful," and here for the Spoiler Alert.

I've taken way too long to try to write this review.  And I've put off reading other Pulitzer books while waiting to post the review of this one.  I just kept putting it off.  And ignoring it.  And avoiding it.  And putting it off some more.  At first, I thought it was because I was trying to come up with something "new" or creative to say about the book.  Then I thought it was because I was busy.  But really, no one is *that* busy.  Then I thought it was because I needed to refresh my memory about the book to make sure I didn't leave out anything important in reviewing it.

None of those reasons was the real reason. In the end, I've concluded that I put off writing about it for so long because I didn't really like it.

While I was reading it, it drew me in.  I read it in just a couple of days on a vacation.  Despite the lack of much of a plot (just a father and son walking, walking, walking through a post-apocalyptic, completely destroyed world, seeking food, shelter, and safety from roving mobs of armed and dangerous cannabilistic thugs), I kept turning the pages, wanting to see "what comes next."

McCarthy writes well, and certainly raises (without really answering) some interesting questions about the meaning of existence and why it is that we keep on keeping on even when the deck is stacked against us and life just sucks. And also I kept thinking, heck, the book won a Pulitzer, so there must be *something* good about it that merited the prize.  (Then again, maybe the Pulitzer award givers enjoy this post-apocalyptic depressing crap...)

But when all was said and done, I heartily disliked the repetitive, bleak scenes and the disutopian outlook.  I felt drained and sad after reading it, and no more "enlightened" than before I started.  And so I'm done.  I'm moving on.  I'm not going to write any more about this book.  And it may be a while before I'm motivated to read anything else by McCarthy.  Too damn depressing.

If someone out there actually liked it, please tell me what redeeming qualities it has.  Maybe I'll learn to appreciate it.  But as it stands now, I'm writing off this Pulitzer winner as a dud.

And suddenly I feel a weight lifted from my shoulders.  I am now free to move on to (hopefully) better prize-winners in my quest to read them all.  To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (I hope, without offending anyone who thinks it is trite to compare my feelings about moving on from this depressingly awful book to Dr. King's feelings about ending racism -- I admit there is no comparison but I swear I just feel so exuberant!):

Free at last, free at last, Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!!


Janie Junebug said...

Winning an award doesn't guarantee a book is good. Finishing college doesn't guarantee a person is intelligent. I'm too tired to come up with other example.


Please stop the two word verification. It's so hard to read and takes so much time. You can moderate posts and you don't need the verification.

Silliyak said...

Thanks for saving me some bucks.

JJ. I hate the WV too, but I just keep hitting enter until I find one that is short and I can actually read

Scope said...

I would read the book, except I don't know how to read. It makes books awkward.

(Okay, my eyesight is going, and reading is a pain, there, I said it.)

LegalMist said...

Janie -- I have no idea how to control what sort of word verification Blogger puts up. All I do is select "yes" or "no" for WV. But because of your persistence, I have turned off WV. Last time I did that, I ended up with a lot of spam comments and it was annoying. I personally find comment moderation annoying. I have it set for older posts, but not for new ones. If I end up with a lot of spam comments, word verification will be back. For now, though, it's gone, so -- happy commenting! :)

Cold As Heaven said...

I thin The Road was great. Great book with an ugly theme.

I also liked No Country for Old Men and Child of God. McCarthy is a brilliant author and a vorbild when it comes to style >:)

Cold As Heaven

Nan said...

My experience with The Road was similar to yours. McCarthy is a remarkably skilled writer, but this book was one of the bleakest novels I've ever read.

I've been working my way up the list of Pulitzer winners. Some of the novels are really, really good and others are pure dreck. So far I've run into two that I simply could not finish -- The Store and The Grapes of Wrath. The Store was well-written, but all the characters in it were so thoroughly repellent I couldn't stand to see another word about them. Grapes of Wrath was, like The Road, unremittingly bleak. I made it about halfway through when I decided life is too short to waste on books that just make you feel bad.

Anonymous said...

Just another guy who doesnt get it 5 years late. Awesome review.

Mulled Vine said...

I loved this book!