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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » What did you think of "The Road"?

   
Author Topic: What did you think of "The Road"?
Carrie
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I'm curious as to how this represents the best of modern American literature. I've heard so many good things about the book and Cormac McCarthy's style, but I didn't quite get the reasons why it was so good.

For me, the book excelled in scenes (much like Spielberg's recent films). As an overall story, I felt little emotion at all - and most of it was boredom. And the end? Maybe I've read too many similar dystopian novels, but I saw that coming very early on.

Really, I just don't understand why this is so highly regarded. I... was left a bit nonplussed, and thought I'd turn here to see what you thought. [Smile]

[NB: I feel pretty comfortable opening this, because I don't remember this being discussed any time recently and I only just got around to reading the book. If a discussion has taken place, please link me to it!]

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Samprimary
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Part of what makes the road fantastic, imo, is cormac's departure from convention that includes compulsory wrap-up. The entire book is a flowing narrative, a synthesis between structured fiction and poetry, which is about desperation and tribulation.

The setting was pretty much a manufactory of haunting imagery.

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ketchupqueen
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Ooooh, sam, from that description I need to read it...
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akhockey
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Agreed. Once you (okay, maybe this only applies to me) get past the lack of quotation marks to denote someone is speaking, and just get lost in his writing, it's a pretty bleak existence.

Which is a good thing, as it is a sign of his ability to bring the reader into this dismal world.

So, the world he creates is fantastically bleak, and the experience reading it is not...

What Samp said.

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Puffy Treat
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I loved Ursula Le Guin's reaction to certain members of the literary elite proclaiming loudly (and snobbishly) that The Road is most definitely -not- part of the SF genre, even though it covers ground many speculative fiction writers have visited.

On Serious Literature

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Artemisia Tridentata
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I did this one as a books on tape, while I drove across the great american desert. The book did keep my attention, allowing eight hours of safe passage. I didn't find it diriative even though I have read several books on a similar theme. I didn't think the author spent as much time on the ending as on the begining. It almost seemed like he decided that the book was long enough, and threw an ending in. Other than that, I enjoyed it.
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Wendybird
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I actually hated it and the narrative flow bothered me. I kept wanting to take my red pen and fix errors. I never finished it because I just couldn't take the dismal, bleak story. I don't enjoy books that make me more depressed and less hopeful than when I start them.
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Samprimary
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quote:
I actually hated it and the narrative flow bothered me. I kept wanting to take my red pen and fix errors.
To me that would be somewhat like 'correcting' the grammar and punctuation in someone's poetry.
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Zalmoxis
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Another good examination of The Road in relation to genre and literary literature is Michael Chabon's New York Review of Books review.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Michael Chabon's New York Review of Books review.
Whoa. Hot.
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MightyCow
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I just finished this.

If it were not for the gold stamp on the front cover, I never would have guessed that it was award material.

Some well-written scenes, but overall it didn't seem particularly exceptional.

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Lisa
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I already read WarDay, so I didn't see the point of reading a remake.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
I'm curious as to how this represents the best of modern American literature.
It doesn't. Modern American literateurs are just now discovering science fiction, and are trying to learn how to write it without reading any of it.
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Lisa
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Because reading it would be beneath them.
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Christine
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I wasn't thrilled with the book. It was depressing, for one thing, although that wasn't what bugged me. I get what the author was trying to do -- no names for the characters, very detailed descriptions of the world they traveled through with no bigger context -- but in the end it meant I had no real connection to anything in the story. The end came and went and my life felt neither better nor worse for having read the book.
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Mike
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Count me among the unimpressed. I read the book in one sitting (on a plane from JFK to SFO), not because the story gripped me, but because I forced myself to keep going just to get the damn thing over with. Yes, there were some phenomenally constructed scenes, but IMHO the writing style failed the pretentiousness test: if the same text had been written by an undergraduate it would have been laughed at, not lauded.
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twinky
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I enjoyed it. I thought it was good, not great.
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TL
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I disagree (with Mike). I thought it was solid. Nothing spectacular or new in terms of science fiction -- but the oppressive world and desperate situations were well-presented. I got caught up in it. I liked the characters. Good book.
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Artemisia Tridentata
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I used it (books-on-tape version) for an eight-hour drive across the great desert. It was in the winter and the mood seemed appropriate for the scenery, or lack of same. The ending did seem abrupt and out of place. But, then it ended when I reached civilization again and that always happens abruptly in the desert. It kept me awake. But, I am in no hurry to read it again.
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Wendybird
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
I actually hated it and the narrative flow bothered me. I kept wanting to take my red pen and fix errors.
To me that would be somewhat like 'correcting' the grammar and punctuation in someone's poetry.
That is probably because you looked at the novel as a synthesis between narrative and poetry. I didn't view it that way.
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Samprimary
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To the extent that you are going to define his grammatical style as being 'errors?'

It's a misuse of the term.

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Kwea
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Not really. If the writing style takes away from the story to the point that it is is noticed more than the story itself, then it has failed, and was a mistake. [Smile]


From a grammatical standpoint it IS filled with errors, and for more than a few people the stype sucked enough to diminish the story.

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Joldo
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Jeez, McCarthy, Margaret Atwood stomped yo' guts.
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TL
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Deliberate choices by a writer are not errors. McCarthy uses short declarative sentences. He doesn't like commas or question marks. He does not use quotation marks. Writing in this way, he was able to create a specific feeling, in the book. Create a muted, depressed tone. This was the first book I've read by him, and I found the style to be very effective. I realize that we all see things differently, and it won't work on many people, but I liked it quite a bit. I have no problem whatsoever with someone not liking it, but to continue to insist that it is only that way because he made "errors" is just wrong.
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Carrie
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quote:
Originally posted by TL:
McCarthy uses short declarative sentences.

Sentences require verbs. There were a distinct lack of verbs in more than a few sentences. [Smile]

(Really, I'm just playing devil's advocate. This sort of semantic detail doesn't matter all that much to me. [Razz] )

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