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Thursday, July 19, 2007

the road

yesterday i finished cormac mccarthy's book, "the road."

it was a quick read--i started it tuesday and finished it wednesday. the writing style was slightly annoying at first, as the author eschews normal punctuation, but with only two nameless characters conversing the lack of quotes didn't matter too much after a few pages. as for the story...all i can say is wow. mccarthy gives his readers no frame of reference for anything. the apocalypse that has left the two characters, a father and son, traveling down a road seeking to escape starvation and freezing is only referred to in the vaguest sense. mostly what you're left with are descriptions of the surroundings they find themselves in as they travel: burnt countryside, looted houses, and always the threat of running into tribes of marauding cannibals. the imagery is disturbing, depressing, and utterly without hope. the father and son have no name, keep no calendar, and have no goals other that to keep on the road and not die. the dirty wasted men intent on murder and cannabalism are juxtaposed against the boy's innocence, and less sharply against that of the father, who will do anything to protect his son.

seems kind of pointless to read. but i have to say it got me thinking. not just about the ramifications of a nuclear holocaust, which was i believe a secondary theme, but about the utter depravity and hopelessness of man without God. not, perhaps, mccarthy's point, but nevertheless what i was thinking about. without the law bearing down on sinful man, there is nothing to keep him from acting out his basest and most disgusting desires. in the face of disaster, starvation, and a lack of civilization, one has to imagine that there would be more people than we'd like to think who would revert to things like cannibalism.

and yet, like the father and his son, i realize that there would always be some people who would try to "be good". some that would never stoop so low, who would try and hold on to some semblance of morality even in the face of utter depravity. but it would be a morality without hope, because what good is goodness without God? this idea is played out in the struggles of the father, who tries to hold onto goodness for the sake of his son, but sees it as a mostly futile endeavor.

all in all it was a good book. not, perhaps, an enjoyable read--but food for thought.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

The utter chaos in New Orleans is a good example of what men may do when faced with such catastrophe. Unfortunately, the enemies of this nation realize all too well this phenomenon. Iran is practicing firing missiles from cargo container ships in the Caspian. If they had a nuclear weapon, they could use this tactic to detonate it high above the eastern seaboard of the US. That would generate an EMP and knock out power to about two thirds of the US. The power outage would be long term because the EMP would damage electronic components. Such a power outage's effects are obvious in light of New Orleans and Katrina...