Tuesday, April 27, 2010
R is for The Road
A few weeks ago I recommended the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I have since decided the book deserved its own post.
When I first read the book, I thought, “Wow.” But as the past few weeks have rolled by, and as I’ve thought more and more about it, I’ve come to think, “Double Wow.” (That’s right, double wow.) It’s hard to quantify why I love the book so much, other than to say it felt different than any other book I’ve ever read, and McCarthy is nothing short of brilliant. The imagery and lessons beautifully rendered in this book have forever changed the way I view the world, and I am confident it will be a staple of my bookshelf for the rest of my life.
The Road is a story placed in a “barren, silent, godless” world; the end of the world. There is no hope. None. And yet, in the shape of one father and one son, there is goodness. And that’s it, that’s the book. You never know the father’s name, and you never know the son’s name. And all they do is make their way down the road in hopes of getting to the coast.
It’s a book filled with mystery, and you are left with far more questions than answers. What happened that made the whole world on fire? How did things get so bad? How many people are still alive? For heaven’s sake, what are their names? And perhaps the biggest question of all: How do the father and son maintain their goodness in a world literally gone to hell?
The answer to the latter question is probably found in their love for each other. The father’s entire existence is to protect his son, who he loves unfailingly. And the son—very likely the most endearing character in all of literary history—simply follows his father. In his life, the son has only known a world where men have degenerated to something less than beasts. And yet he carries only virtue in his heart.
Man has a great propensity for evil. History has shown that when push comes to shove many resort to tremendous evil. But history has also shown that despite the evils of the world, there is still goodness. And in that goodness, there is always hope. Even when the world offers none. And that is why I love The Road.
“Do you remember that little boy, Papa?”
“Yes. I remember him.”
“Do you think that he’s all right that little boy?
“Oh yes. I think he’s all right.”
“Do you think he was lost?”
“No I don’t think he was lost.”
“I’m scared that he was lost.”
“I think he’s all right.”
“But who will find him if he’s lost? Who will find the little boy?”
“Goodness will find the little boy. It always has. It will again.”