Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An emotionally compelling work of genius, 2 July 2007
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This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
This is a dark and disturbing novel which shows plainly how both the savagery and (albeit slightly) the goodness and tenderness of human nature becomes acutely apparent when we are placed under horrific difficulties.

The work is compelling more out of shock than through its plot which, along with its narrative and imagery, creates a deliberate monotony that reflects the hardship which the two protagonists face. (This is not to say that the book is monotonous - far from it; instead, McCarthy adds fascination by removing, rather than adding, colour, both literally and metaphorically.)

Intensely "grey" imagery prevails through the novel, and amongst this is woven striking symbolism that gives great depth to the novel, despite its 241 pages. We never find out what disastrous events took place prior to the story to give such a dead landscape, although it seems likely that nuclear war is the reason (McCarthy even seems to suggest, subtly, as much). This is largely irrelevant, however, because the work is a study of human nature after these events have taken place.

The style is almost revolutionary, with frequent omission of verbs and pronouns to intensify the drama. There are no speech marks so that action and dialogue blend effortlessly, almost echoing Virginia Woolf and the "stream of consciousness" movement (though far more accessible).

McCarthy's themes and ideas, however, are more like Golding - and indeed there can be no reason why "The Road" should not stand by "Lord of the Flies" as a strong contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. I do not exaggerate here: it is a horrifying but wonderful reading experience; part of you will be revolted and another part will be in awe at the sheer composed intelligence of the narrative. This book is too enormous to compact into a mere review, but I cannot fault it. It creates a tapestry of emotion, from horror, to shock, to sympathy, and to great sadness.

A must read for anyone.
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Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire

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