Literature │The Road to Hope
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

(published in “Avrupa” )

Breath-taking, mesmerising and poetic are only a few words which can describe Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. An aspiring writer can only hope that they are able to create something, as good as little as a quarter of how well written The Road is. Cormac McCarthy is an entirely different breed of writer, famously known for being a recluse and not minding how many people read his work. He believes that his only job is to write, and not publicize, and write he will. McCarthy’s work came into the limelight with a bang in 2007 when the Coen brothers brought McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men to the screen; the novel itself had been written in 2005. It was also in 2007 that he received the Pulitzer Prize for his post-apocalyptic novel The Road, which shall be gracing our screens on the 25th November 2009.

McCarthy’s style is unique, the first aspect one may note, is the succinct, to the point, strong male voice. It is an inescapable one which booms from beyond the page. Each sentence pierces a membrane of our hearts as his language swoons with poetry. We follow the journey of a man and his son, unnamed as they treed across harsh barren lands, only a few have survived a disaster, which is unknown and irrelevant. They seek safety, avoiding others on the road as people have become dangerous, fighting for the last scarps of food and the flesh of the other.

It is the relationship between the father and son which carry the book. Cormac in fact dedicated this book to his son. In an interview by John Jurgensen for the “Wall St Journal”, he admitted that the relationship between the boy and the father are akin to the relationship he has with his now 13 year old son. It is the importance of this relationship which pulsates and moves the story. The dialogue between the two is incredible, each word and thought are perfectly constructed in such a way that it is as though it is unintentional, yet it must be, it is this magic, the hiding of the strings if you will that captures our thoughts, hearts and imagination. To call the relationship between the two as “pure” would be corny, as calling it “beautiful” would provide a minute amount of justice.

Stepping away from the dialogue and the deliberately unpunctuated text, we are submerged into an incredible environment. One in which the sun has been blocked out by ash which falls from the sky, and the emptiness of the land which is littered with the dead; frozen in postures of escape. The Road deals with the great social issue which we need to stop and ask ourselves, as everything in the end seems to point to the fact that, for the majority of us, we will fall down to our basic animal instincts. The question is how much of your humanity can you hold onto and for how long? Would you, along with the majority of survivors, excluding the nameless man and his son, do anything to survive? Even if it meant turning to your neighbour and feasting upon them?

The Road is a must read, I am yet to meet someone who has not sighed with a heavy heart at the end of this novel. When Paul Sweeny said, “You know you’ve read a good book when you turn to the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend,” you simply understand that he had the likes of this novel in mind. Do your poetic sensibilities justice and reach out for this book, it will stay with you for ever.

©Zehra Mustafa

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