Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

I don't read many novels. I read masses of non-fiction for work, and normally find that if I'm inclined to read, then things I 'should' be reading crowd to the front of the queue. I mostly get around to fiction when travelling (my brain doesn't seem to handle data and statistics jammed into a crowded airliner) and on holiday. When I do read a novel the bar is pretty high - not doing this very often I demand major league literary experience, or utterly seamless and engrossing schlock.

About half of my novel reading for a year or so has been stuff by Cormac McCarthy. Earlier today I finished a second reading of The Road.

It took years for my capacity to enjoy literature to recover from the damage of a major in English Literature, and I'm not going to reverse the gains by writing a review here. It's a remarkable, extraordinarily sad and compelling read. You'll keep feeling you have to put it down because you can't bear any more, then immediately picking it up because you can't leave the story behind. The book is filled with single paragraphs of great poetic beauty. Read it.

There are plenty of reviews out there. Janet Maslin has a good one in the New York Times. Michael Chabon gets in a bunch of zeigeisty stuff, and reminds me why I'm glad to be far away from literary criticism in his take on it in the New York Review of Books.


Simon Halliday said...

Any chance you'll comment on the other stuff of his that you've read? I happened to think The Road and No Country For Old Men were both phenomenal. I found reading All The Pretty Horses not as engaging, but still beautiful. I've just started the crossing.

Also, any thoughts on the film adaptation of No Country?

Doctor Spurt said...

I read "No Country" first, and really loved it. Then I read "All the Pretty Horses" and was totally blown away - so much that I re-read it immediately. I'm just starting "The Crossing" now. I thought the Coen brothers did a fine job of the film, but having read the book took away a lot of the suspense for me, which is no fault of theirs. I'll try to say something about "The Crossing" when I'm done with it...