Wednesday, May 18, 2016

THE ROAD

Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece unsettled, terrified, and inspired me.

I won't try to summarize it here -- any plot summary of this book won't do it justice -- but I will tell you that THE ROAD is among the most engrossing, powerful, and technically perfect novels I've ever read. Echoes of Beckett and bleak-phase Shakespeare were hard for me to ignore, and while Godot and Lear certainly informed this universe, I finished the book with a firm but cautious sense of hope in the Divine that felt foreign to, yet somehow relevant to, those two source texts.

A remarkable achievement, but much of the world already knew that. Why should I throw more superlatives at you? What would that accomplish? I wept. That's enough to say.

A second "How did he do that?" reading is on the horizon for me before too long. Having said that, I should note that one pass through this harrowing work may well be enough for easily shaken readers. It is not an easy book, but then the best ones never are.

If you are ready for a dark but important journey, track this one down and give it a few moments of undivided attention. I started it on that basis, wondering if the opening would live up to the stellar reviews. It did. From there, the book simply refused to unhand me -- it is a case study in literary magnetism. Once it finally released me, I found to my surprise that it had left me kindling an utterly illogical but nevertheless steady flame of optimism. Optimism for humanity. Optimism for the transformative power of fiction. Optimism for finding a way forward.