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The Road

by

The Road Cover

ISBN13: 9780307387899
ISBN10: 0307387895
Condition: Standard
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Awards

The Rooster 2007 Morning News Tournament of Books Winner

2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Staff Pick

Partial spoiler: the part with the cannibals comes out of nowhere and is utterly terrifying. I had planned to get out of bed and brush my teeth before going to sleep that night, but once I had read that part of the book, I was just too scared (to my husband's great annoyance) to do anything so potentially risky.
Recommended by Suzanne G., Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"It's an adventure, believe it or not — the sort of book that, if only for the relentless clarity of the writing, the lucid descriptions of the grasses, the mud, the thorns, and the very arc of the road that cuts through all that, presents a clear and episodic progress from one small terror to the next. Forget comfort and possession. Postapocalypse or not, it's classic McCarthy....You should read this book because it is exactly what a book about our future ought to be: the knife wound of our inconvenient truths, laid bare in a world that will just plain scare the piss out of you on a windy night." Tom Chiarella, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

"The love between the father and the son is one of the most profound relationships McCarthy has ever written, and the strength of it helps raise the novel — despite considerable gore — above nihilistic horror....Fans of McCarthy's brutal world view may not approve, but other readers will welcome the unexpectedly hopeful ending." Yvonne Zipp, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire CSM review)

"The Road is a much more compelling and demanding book than its predecessor....The new novel will not let the reader go, and will horribly invade his dreams, too....It is an interesting question as to why McCarthy succeeds so well. The secret, I think, is that McCarthy takes nothing for granted." James Wood, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece.

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food — and each other.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, each the other's world entire, are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

Review:

"Even within the author's extraordinary body of work, this stands as a radical achievement, a novel that demands to be read and reread....A novel of horrific beauty, where death is the only truth." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"The Road offers nothing in the way of escape or comfort. But its fearless wisdom is more indelible than reassurance could ever be." Janet Maslin, New York Times

Review:

"One of McCarthy's best novels, probably his most moving and perhaps his most personal." Los Angeles times

Review:

"I'm always thrilled when a fine writer of first-class fiction takes up the genre of science fiction and matches its possibilities with his or her own powers....[A] dark book that glows with the intensity of his huge gift for language." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"[B]eyond the inherent technical difficulties of concocting the unthinkable, McCarthy has rendered a greater and more subtle story that makes The Road riveting." Boston Globe

Review:

"[O]nly now, with his devastating 10th novel, has [McCarthy] found the landscape perfectly matched to his cosmically bleak vision....[E]xtraordinarily lovely and sad...[a] masterpiece... (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"The setup may be simple, but the writing throughout is magnificent....McCarthy may have created a world where things are reduced to their essence, but he continually surprises by finding a way to strip them further." Chicago Sun-Times

Review:

"The wildly admired writer Cormac McCarthy presents his own post-apocalyptic vision in The Road. The result is his most compelling, moving and accessible novel since All the Pretty Horses." USA Today

Review:

"[F]or a parable to succeed, it needs to have some clear point or message. The Road has neither, other than to say that after an earth-destroying event, things will go hard for the survivors." Houston Chronicle

Synopsis:

National Bestseller

Pulitzer Prize Winner

National Book Critic's Circle Award Finalist

A New York Times Notable Book

One of the Best Books of the Year:
The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Denver Post, The Kansas City Star, Los Angeles Times, New York, People, Rocky Mountain News, Time, The Village Voice, The Washington Post

A man and his young son traverse a blasted American landscape, covered with "the ashes of the late world." The man can still remember the time before. The boy knows only this time. There is nothing for them but survival — they are "each other's world entire" — and the precious last vestiges of their own humanity. At once brutal and tender, despairing and rashly hopeful, spare of language and profoundly moving, The Road is a fierce and haunting meditation on the tenuous divide between civilization and savagery, and the essential, sometimes terrifying power of filial love. It is a masterpiece.

About the Author

Cormac McCarthy is the author of nine previous novels. Among his honors are the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 28 comments:

Emily Minzel, April 2, 2014 (view all comments by Emily Minzel)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy is not what I was expecting. The novel follows a father and his son in a post-apocalyptic world, travelling to the southern coast. Their struggle to survive dominates the story. The somber tone of the novel is depressing throughout and never wavers. McCarthy’s decision to abandon the readers with an unhappy ending was intentional, leaving them wanting more. The boy and his father’s fight for life in McCarthy’s The Road is brought on by the post-apocalyptic, dull world they live in. The unchanging and relatively uneventful plot portrays a devastating journey that turns readers off.
The setting of The Road is dreary to say the least. Ash covers all. Everything is described as black, filthy and lifeless. Each night is “dark beyond darkness” (3) so nothing is visible. McCarthy describes everything in this way to emphasize the horrible conditions the world is in. No specific information is given throughout the entire book. Readers remain unaware of the names of characters, where exactly they are located and how long the world has been in ruins. The boy is most likely a pre-teen, but no age is ever included. One bit of information provided is the boy does not remember the previous world at all because he was too young. The father does everything he can to keep the boy alive. Hunger becomes a constant reminder of how he cannot provide for himself or his own son. While it pains the two, many “bad people” resort to cannibalism. The boy sees a “charred human infant headless and gutted and blackening on the spit” (198). This would scar any normal child, but the boy is almost resilient. Feelings of hunger, cold, and sadness are always present; sometimes they come in pairs. In the tragic end, the father finally dies, but the boy lives on, “carrying the fire” (283).
Many novels are full of literary elements that provide interesting detail, but The Road excludes most elements to showcase its uniqueness. McCarthy’s choice to eliminate important literary devices is intentional, but lacks purpose. The missing punctuation and terrible grammar is careless and overrated. McCarthy notes, “he drained away the filthy water he sat in and laved fresh warm water over him from the pan and wrapped him again in a blanket”, proposing a run-on sentence. The act is very common in the novel. If it was a way to show the toll the world has taken on the characters, it failed. Characters, as mentioned, remain nameless, which are in need of personal connections. Readers do not respond as well to the characters because all they have to call them is “the boy” and “the father”. They want something personal to latch onto, even if it is just a name. Also, the plot remains anticlimactic. The only major event happens in the very last pages of the novel when the father dies. The boy is left to fend for himself until someone comes for him. He joins a group of people, the group he and his father were looking for the whole time. Although it presents itself like a hopeful ending, it is just the opposite. The story focuses on the father protecting the son, but in the end, he cannot even protect himself. The tone of The Road is constant throughout. The depressing, heartbreaking tone feels like a burden on the soul. Dialogue is another omitted component. Though there is a little of it, the dialogue is not very prominent. It stays in the background, not playing a key role. The author does this to communicate that speaking is not everything. The fears and thoughts that go on in a character’s head is just as important, if not more than dialogue between them. Overall, McCarthy’s novel is missing key elements of literature.
When considering the book as a whole, it is still intriguing even though it lacks action. For the majority, the father and son are only walking. The road they travel is bare, dark and cold. The same ideas are regurgitated over and over again. Hunger comes up in so many instances that it is odd when the pair are not speaking of it. For me, it was obnoxious to be told multiple times that the same thing was happening. I wanted more twists and turns in the plot. I found myself to be bored with the storyline, wishing for excitement. At the same time, McCarthy’s artistic choices left me in awe. He was very specific with the relationship the father and son had. The son’s backlash against his father illustrates his coming of age in a confusing world. The major issue deals with lack of hope. The major theme is when hopelessness sinks in, there is not a lot to do about it. Their journey to the coast is filled with hope that better life will be waiting. Without hope, the son and father give up. The man proclaims, “hope is for eternal nothingness” (57). Readers are aware that he does not have the energy left to hope. When their dreams are shattered, the story takes a turn for the worse. The unpleasant death of the father is McCarthy’s way of getting under his readers’ skin. He does not give them the happy ending they desire, but instead writes their worst fear. The major complaint about the novel is the shortage of surprises.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy is mostly uneventful, but it has its moments of pure artistic genius. The novel is overwhelmed by the struggle for life. The depressing thoughts are extremely prominent and carry a somber tone. The hope the boy and man share dies off, followed by the loss of life. McCarthy’s novel proves that a person can only hang on to hopelessness for so long before he must give up.
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pkdubreuil, January 6, 2013 (view all comments by pkdubreuil)
Well written.
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Sue Bond, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Sue Bond)
Simple and powerful prose that made me read the novel all the way through in one go. The Road is the first novel of Cormac McCarthy's that I read, and I came to it with my partner's strong recommendations for his other books, particularly Blood Meridian. It is a tough story of the end of human civilisation as we know it, told through the characters of a father and his son, and I was right there with them in the blackened remains and the frightening encounters with other humans mostly stripped bare of their humanity. Absolutely devastating; I will never forget it.
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View all 28 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307387899
Author:
McCarthy, Cormac
Publisher:
Vintage Books USA
Author:
Various
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Fathers and sons
Subject:
Voyages and travels
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage International
Publication Date:
20070331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
12 x 9 x 5 in 9.74 lb

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The Road Used Trade Paper
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$6.50 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780307387899 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Partial spoiler: the part with the cannibals comes out of nowhere and is utterly terrifying. I had planned to get out of bed and brush my teeth before going to sleep that night, but once I had read that part of the book, I was just too scared (to my husband's great annoyance) to do anything so potentially risky.

"Review A Day" by , "It's an adventure, believe it or not — the sort of book that, if only for the relentless clarity of the writing, the lucid descriptions of the grasses, the mud, the thorns, and the very arc of the road that cuts through all that, presents a clear and episodic progress from one small terror to the next. Forget comfort and possession. Postapocalypse or not, it's classic McCarthy....You should read this book because it is exactly what a book about our future ought to be: the knife wound of our inconvenient truths, laid bare in a world that will just plain scare the piss out of you on a windy night." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review A Day" by , "The love between the father and the son is one of the most profound relationships McCarthy has ever written, and the strength of it helps raise the novel — despite considerable gore — above nihilistic horror....Fans of McCarthy's brutal world view may not approve, but other readers will welcome the unexpectedly hopeful ending." (read the entire CSM review)
"Review A Day" by , "The Road is a much more compelling and demanding book than its predecessor....The new novel will not let the reader go, and will horribly invade his dreams, too....It is an interesting question as to why McCarthy succeeds so well. The secret, I think, is that McCarthy takes nothing for granted." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "Even within the author's extraordinary body of work, this stands as a radical achievement, a novel that demands to be read and reread....A novel of horrific beauty, where death is the only truth."
"Review" by , "The Road offers nothing in the way of escape or comfort. But its fearless wisdom is more indelible than reassurance could ever be."
"Review" by , "One of McCarthy's best novels, probably his most moving and perhaps his most personal."
"Review" by , "I'm always thrilled when a fine writer of first-class fiction takes up the genre of science fiction and matches its possibilities with his or her own powers....[A] dark book that glows with the intensity of his huge gift for language."
"Review" by , "[B]eyond the inherent technical difficulties of concocting the unthinkable, McCarthy has rendered a greater and more subtle story that makes The Road riveting."
"Review" by , "[O]nly now, with his devastating 10th novel, has [McCarthy] found the landscape perfectly matched to his cosmically bleak vision....[E]xtraordinarily lovely and sad...[a] masterpiece... (Grade: A)"
"Review" by , "The setup may be simple, but the writing throughout is magnificent....McCarthy may have created a world where things are reduced to their essence, but he continually surprises by finding a way to strip them further."
"Review" by , "The wildly admired writer Cormac McCarthy presents his own post-apocalyptic vision in The Road. The result is his most compelling, moving and accessible novel since All the Pretty Horses."
"Review" by , "[F]or a parable to succeed, it needs to have some clear point or message. The Road has neither, other than to say that after an earth-destroying event, things will go hard for the survivors."
"Synopsis" by , National Bestseller

Pulitzer Prize Winner

National Book Critic's Circle Award Finalist

A New York Times Notable Book

One of the Best Books of the Year:
The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Denver Post, The Kansas City Star, Los Angeles Times, New York, People, Rocky Mountain News, Time, The Village Voice, The Washington Post

A man and his young son traverse a blasted American landscape, covered with "the ashes of the late world." The man can still remember the time before. The boy knows only this time. There is nothing for them but survival — they are "each other's world entire" — and the precious last vestiges of their own humanity. At once brutal and tender, despairing and rashly hopeful, spare of language and profoundly moving, The Road is a fierce and haunting meditation on the tenuous divide between civilization and savagery, and the essential, sometimes terrifying power of filial love. It is a masterpiece.

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