Monday, July 27, 2009

Book recommendation: The Road

If you can stomach violent imagery then you will find Cormac McCarthy's The Road to be a phenomenal read. It is as dark as it can get in its depiction of a post-apocalyptic America, and yet it is gripping in its details and in tracing the survival instincts of humans. But it is not a depressing book (disturbing, yes, but depressing, no). In fact, the occasional positive side of human nature stands out in the chaos and complete breakdown of the society depicted by McCarthy. In addition, the book is great story of the bonding between a father and a son. Here is a sample:
No list of things to be done. The day providential to itself. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes. So, he whispered to the sleeping boy. I have you.
But don't worry, there is plenty of utter poetic darkness too.
He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.
Wow!

As I have mentioned before, a movie based on the book is coming out this coming October. It has a fantastic cast: Vigo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, and Charlize Theron. Plus, it is directed by John Hillcoat, who directed the fantastic Australian western, The Proposition (no need to remind you again that its screenplay was by Nick Cave). Needless to say, I'm looking forward to The Road - the movie. However, if you get a chance, read the book first. This way you will create your own imagery of a post-apocalyptic world. Also read this excellent NYT review of the book. Here is a quote from the review:

This is an exquisitely bleak incantation — pure poetic brimstone. Mr. McCarthy has summoned his fiercest visions to invoke the devastation. He gives voice to the unspeakable in a terse cautionary tale that is too potent to be numbing, despite the stupefying ravages it describes. Mr. McCarthy brings an almost biblical fury as he bears witness to sights man was never meant to see.
While we wait for the film, here is the trailer:

4 comments:

Don said...

The Road is on the list, but I have to go through a book more full of stomach-churning violence before I can get to it: McCarthy's Blood Meridian. Have you read that one?

Salman Hameed said...

Yes, and absolutely loved it. In fact the two books go together well - one is full of color - and the other completely devoid of it. But BM is I think darker than the Road. There is some hope in the Road - but none in BM.

Oh...and Ridley Scott is turning BM into a movie (slated for release next year). I'm not too sure about that. I think he will focus more on violence rather than the nature of evil which is more the point of the book. We'll see. Kubrick, perhaps, would have been a perfect director for it.

Don said...

Don't discount Scott-- sure, he goes in for gorefests like Gladiator, but he also directs great suspense, like the original Alien. Also, he directed one of my absolute favorites, Blade Runner. If he establishes a mood like he did in those two, an adaptation of Blood Meridian might work out.

Don said...

And speaking of Blade Runner, I just saw Moon this evening. I'm really glad you put up your review of it earlier this summer, because it was great.