When No Country For Old Men won the Best Picture Academy Award in 2007 I told myself, “I must read Cormac McCarthy.”
I didn’t get around to it, however, until recently. I knew that All the Pretty Horses, volume one of “The Border Trilogy”, had received both the 1992 National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Then The Road was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Last week I picked up The Road, thumbed through it, and noted the absence of quotation marks to indicate dialogue. Finding this somewhat distracting, I laid the book aside and turned to a different novel. Yesterday I picked up McCarthy’s book again—-and finished it this morning.
A man and his son, both unnamed, struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Possessed of meager provisions and a pistol with two bullets, the man convinces the boy that some kind of salvation exists near the sea. Through a blighted landscape of gray ash, dead trees, and chilling temperatures, the reader joins them on the road, encountering harrowing instances of debased humanity, cannibalism, and despair. The boy, who has never known any other life, seems, at times, touched by God, for he is ever aware of the fact that he and his father are the “good guys” who “carry the fire”. Eventually the man succumbs to disease, starvation, and exposure—yet remains convinced that “Goodness will find the little boy. It always has. It will again.”
The Road has been called both “a masterpiece” by Booklist and “a novel of horrific beauty” by Kirkus Reviews. I agree. The book, deceptively simple and straightforward, is devastating and reminds us that the world teeters on the edge of the abyss.
On June 5, 2007, McCarthy sat down with Oprah Winfrey for his first and only television interview. When asked about his writing, McCarthy said he prefers simple, direct sentences and refuses to muddy up his text with “weird little marks” (quotation marks). The video can viewed on Oprah’s site: http://www.oprah.com/
. Just enter his name in the “Search oprah.com” field on the upper right of the screen.
Directed by John Hillcoat, the film adaptation has just been released in theatres and is receiving generally favorable reviews. Viggo Mortensen, whom many will remember as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, plays the man.
East Central Regional Library owns all of McCarthy’s works in various formats: regular print, large print, audio, VHS, and DVD. Access our homepage at https://www.ecrlib.org/
and click on “ECRL Catalog” if you’d like to request a specific item. Remember that library staff are a quick phone call away if you need assistance.
Reference and Interlibrary Loan Librarian