If nothing else, THE ROAD will change the way you look at canned food forever.
This is the book that I go back to when I’m having a hard time writing tension that isn’t grandiose. And that’s because basic human needs–food, water, shelter–are the cogs that drive this book forward. These readily accepted facets of American life become infused with drama. When the two nameless characters are starving in a desolate countryside and find a can of peaches, those peaches are suddenly *the best thing ever*! Better than defeating Sauron or the Galactic Emperor, or finding the Ark of the Covenant.
And that’s what I love about this book. The small things–the really personal struggles–become epic triumphs.
There’s also the monotony. Usually, monotony and repetition kill a book for me. But more than the cannibalistic killers roaming the countryside, the characters’ needs become the antagonists. Their hunger is palpable, and the repetitious patterns undertaken to meet these needs only drives home the quality of the struggle.
It would have been very easy for McCarthy to write a bleak text about a post-apocalyptic world, but, remarkably, this novel is actually infused with strength. Through the novel’s hardship, the brilliance of the persevering human spirit is portrayed time and time again.
THE ROAD could have been big and flashy–the post-apocalyptic concept/genre lends itself to this–but instead is intimately personal, and is decidedly better off as such.
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