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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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The Road

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The Road Cover

ISBN13: 9780307387899
ISBN10: 0307387895
Condition: Standard
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will not bill, March 29, 2012 (view all comments by will not bill)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road is a gripping novel that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat the entire time while making the reader ask the question, "What would I do if the world ended and I survived?".
The Road is the story of a father and his son's struggle for survival. The novel is set in a utopian society in a post apocalyptic world where few have survived and resources are scarce. The main plot of The Road is the father and son's journey along the road toward the coast in search of a government safe haven. Along the way they encounter many conflicts and life threatening situations against the "bad guys". After the world ended many became desperate and would do anything to survive. These "bad guys" would, rape women, kill, steal, and even eat other human beings just to survive. The Road is a gripping, edge of your seat, and bone chilling thriller that easily keeps readers entertained. I would give this book 4/5 because of its great word choice, and the re-occurring themes of conflict and survival.
I gave this book four out of five stars, but the description and word choice at times was easily a five. McCarthy went into such description with various interesting words to paint a picture in the readers minds. "Middens of anonymous trash. Farmhouses in the fields scoured of their paint and the clapboards spooned and sprung from the wall-studs" (127). As I was reading this I could easily picture the father and his son walking along the road and everything they saw. McCarthy was constantly alluding to the gray ash and how the rest of the world was completely gray. "Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than had gone before. Like the onset of glaucoma dimming away the world" (1).
At times the language got too graphic for my stomach and I imagine many other readers. This is one reason I would hesitate to recommend it to some of my friends. I have always considered myself having a tough stomach and being able to handle gross things, but sometimes I was taken back by The Road. "A charred human infant headless and gutted and blackening on the spit" (58). This type of description and word choice was common and is a main reason I would only recommend this novel to people over the age of fifteen.
As a reader it was really easy to pick out the themes of conflict and survival. The main conflict comes between the son and father when it comes to survival. The son wants to help everyone along the road, but the father wants to worry just about themselves. Also the conflict between the "good guys" and "bad guys". This conflict makes the readers imagine what they would do if the world ended. Would they become a person like the son and father? or would they become like the "bad guys" and become desperate and eat other humans? The Road constantly makes the reader think what they would if they were put in the shoes of the son and the father.
Overall I would give The Road by Cormac McCarthy 4 stars out of 5. At times McCarthy's word choice and description was brilliant, but at other times it was disgusting and gut wrenching. For this reason I would not recommend this novel to anyone under the age of fifteen or anybody who does not do well with violence. The themes of good versus evil, conflict, and survival are all applicable to our lives today and were easy to understand. The Road is an easy read that will be sure to keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat.
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Jenche, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Jenche)
I love the writing style in the book. Poetic, and beautifully tragic. It was really short, but emotionally more difficult to read. Probably could be read in 6 hours. This is how every parent/child relationship should be-apocalypse or not. It gives perspective in the sense of simplification, survival and how those can be achieved with out certain sacrifices. I seen the movie before I read the book, and the book was well worth the read... way more detail and description, and subsequently, more exp...moreI love the writing style in the book. Poetic, and beautifully tragic. It was really short, but emotionally more difficult to read. Probably could be read in 6 hours. This is how every parent/child relationship should be-apocalypse or not. It gives perspective in the sense of simplification, survival and how those can be achieved with out certain sacrifices. I seen the movie before I read the book, and the book was well worth the read... way more detail and description, and subsequently, more explanation. Though it still remained perfectly anonymous, which is why this is one of the best end of the world books out there. The thoughts I had during this read, whether apocalyptic or just (about)relationships kept going beyond the words on the page.
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Rachel Coker, October 14, 2010 (view all comments by Rachel Coker)
This book is at once bleak and beautiful, simple and complex, raw and refined. It’s a triumph in terms of McCarthy’s use of language, with descriptions of a post-apocalyptic world that are achingly evocative. I have a longstanding (and maybe peculiar) interest in utopian and dystopian fiction, and this book will stand out in that genre along with masterpieces such as “Brave New World” and “Fahrenheit 451.” It’s amazing to me that McCarthy can at once offer so little detail about what caused the apocalypse or even where in the former United States his characters are and yet leave no doubt about their circumstances or the outlook for their survival. My own hopes and expectations for humanity are more optimistic than those expressed here, but there’s no doubt that McCarthy’s imagined future could come to pass in a world with so much violence and hatred. “The Road” is difficult to read -- and impossible to put down. Experiences like this are the reason I read novels.
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writermom, April 5, 2010 (view all comments by writermom)
At once unbearable to read and impossible to put down, this book took my breath away from the start and I held it until the last page. As a busy mom to two young boys and freelance writer, I rarely read a book this quickly. This book kept me up turning the pages late into the night, and kept me awake even longer after turning out the light while Cormac McCarthy's vivid imagery held my imagination captive. The phrase "triumph of the human spirit" is tired and over-used, but it is truly the best description for this book. After reading it, I found myself watching my two boys with different eyes.
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vonzy101, February 4, 2010 (view all comments by vonzy101)
One of the absolute best novels I have ever read. I'm glad it won Powells' awards, it truly deserved it. I thought I had already commented and cast my vote for it, but since it's not showing up in the comments, I figured I'd have to do it again.

It is a page-turner from start to finish, but more than the suspense, it's the beautiful prose that hooked me. I found myself rereading paragraphs not for confusion, but because McCarthy's word choice is so stunning at times. This is a work that truly demonstrates the power of the written word.
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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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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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