Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Road - Carmac McCarthy

Post apocalyptic time , in USA , a father and his young son, walks through the ruins across America, towards the south coast. As they cross the mountains, the plains, the deserted cities, fighting their own personal tragedies, the few left over scavengers in a world where all the living creatures have disappeared. There are no foods, there are no cloths, just a pistol to defend ; the nature is hard , it snows and rains relentlessly, ashes sprays across the landscape in wind. '

Where are they heading ? To the coast, to south.. from the cold and breezy winter to the warmth of the south and sea beach. They cant stay at a place, fearing other 'still surviving' people ( however rare it is), who would do anything for a piece of meal , a piece of cloth, including cannibalism. So, they walk , confiding in each other. Talking to each other in mono syllables, telling stories of the good time, all the while looking for a place to shelter , avoiding the roads and potential places of danger ( of meeting fellow travelers). They have to eat whatever is found on the way, often breaking into abandoned houses , department stores. Their conscience prick them. They need to console themselves that it is natural and not unethical. They keep reassuring themselves that they belong to the "Good People" and there are good people remaining in this world. The boys mother, unable to endure this gruelling time, ends her life before the story begin.

The journey continue until they reach the coast. What next, where do you go now ? There don't seems to be any escape out of this. The writer does not give any false hopes. The father coughs and coughs blood, and the tragedy is imminent. There is only a belief that the world is not over yet and there will be 'few good people' among the survivors.

An absorbing tale of the aftermath of the tragedy that hit the planet. The author does not get into the details of the disaster. What matters is the scary , gray and dusty days after the event. While this has been an absorbing and shocking read, I found it a bit repetitive in the middle as they move from one incident to another ( kind of "well, what next" feeling). The narration is simple, unattached and clear. No exaggeration of events, no glorification of the pathos and struggle. But it does leave a lasting impression on you. An impression of fear, of helplessness, of eternal hope of goodwill. McCarthy's prophetic novel is successful in creating the necessary shock to the readers. Brilliant stuff.

The Road
Carmac McCarthy
307 Pages
Rs 237
Further read : NY Times


Anonymous said...

How can you read so much fiction? The last time I read lots of fiction, a long time ago, I nearly went crazy. And I stopped.

Since then I have read only poetry and I have deeply dove into music.

Unlike fiction, both poetry and music, I believe, depict worlds of perfection. And to a lesser degree, mathematics does the same.

The fictional world is full of unrealistic imperfection, dont you think?

You might say, well, the real world is full of imperfection. I disagree. The imperfection is illusory. If we know all the details, no story is imperfect. Everyone is acting perfectly except that they might be breaking laws or a moral code or a spiritual principle.

I dont read fiction any more because it does not present the world of perfection that music and poetry have made me fully believe in and the one that we all live in.

I must admit, in fairness, I do watch movies and they are like fiction and they leave me so dissatisfied. There is so much conflict, so much chaos.

My wife also reads too much fiction, but at least it is her job.

Brain Drain said...

Hi, Thank you for your post.

To me , poetry , fiction, and movies, does represent a part of the universe untold earlier with a new insight.

I do not read fantasy and science-fiction ( which I think is imaginary and unrealistic , but they have their own merits), and not many from the main stream genre (read and throw stuff). Usually try to select and read some think which are more closure to the real life existence of human races across the globe. Some of my intuitions, and few recommendations prove wrong, but I guess that is part of your reading anyway.

Moreover, I also read lot of non-fiction in between. Hence it is not just those fictions alone.

I could not reply directly, but the topic of fiction / literature are interesting and each reader has his own reasons and theories.