Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Road

So there I was, flying back from Washington DC last Thursday evening, and all set with my well-planned reading agenda.  I actually like to fly because I get a lot of time to read while waiting around in airports and on the plane itself.   But lo and behold mother nature stepped in and decided to storm over Dallas, causing our airplane to have to divert to St Louis to avoid running out of fuel.  My first reaction was, "Oh crap!  What if I miss my connecting flight home?"  But my immediate second thought was, "Cool!  I'll no doubt finish my book ahead of schedule and will be forced to buy another one in St Louis!"  Yes, I am one of the "gently mad".

So we spent an extra hour on the ground in St Louis plus travel time to Dallas but fortunately, my connecting flight was also delayed allowing me about 15 minutes to browse the airport bookstore.  I didn't need that long though because I've promised several people that I would read The Road by Cormac McCarthy just as soon as I could get my hands on a copy.  And, of course there were stacks of them (with the movie tie-in cover) right up front.  So it would be a happy homecoming afterall.

Lots has been written about this book and, of course, it won the Pulitzer Prize, an achievement which many people seem to value.  For me, I chose it due to opinions of people I respect and trust.  The novel is billed as a post-apocalyptic novel and I suppose it is; at least the setting would concur with that assessment.  But it's really so much more than that.  On the surface it's about a man and his son, travelling along a road to get to somewhere that they hope is better.  There are quite a few encounters along the way that serve to drive the plot to its conclusion.  But where this novel succeeds is through its multiple layers.  Depending on how far the reader peels back that onion, he or she is likely to have a different reading experience.  The author is conservative in his word count but depicts so much with his word choice.  You get the flavor of the setting with very few descriptions but this bleak landscape is vibrant because of his writing skills.  And the relationship between the man and his son was written beutifully.  I got their personalities and outlook on life right away through there limited dialogue. 

I've not read any other books by Cormac McCarthy but I suspect I will now.  In this book, he doesn't use quotation marks or apostrophes but it didn't bother me at all.  In such a world, how could such trivial things matter?  We are never told the name of the main character, the "man" or his son, and we never come to understand just what happened to destroy the world prior to the beginning of the book.  But so what?  It isn't about that.  It's about this relationship between two people and just how far a father's love can go to protect his son.  This is not a cherry, happy read but nevertheless gives the reader a deep sense of purpose and certainly gives us pause to think.  I can tell you it made me happy to be back home with my family.  Thanks to all of you who recommended this to me.

Next up: an ARC called, The Trade by Fred Stenson.


  1. My #1 book of all-time. Your review did it justice.

  2. Thanks Jonathon. Your comment made my day. I don't know if I would say this book is my favorite of all time but then again, I can't name my favorite or even come up with a good top-10 list without feeling like I'm leaving out so many outstanding books.

  3. Yay! I'm so glad you got to THE really has impacted the way I see life...does it get any better than that for a book? I don't think so.

    I'm glad you're back to writing!

  4. Thanks Anita. I'd love to write "full time" after my retirement from the AF but I'm still working on the kids' college expenses. So I'll just have to fit it in as I can around whatever job I can obtain.


Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire