The Road by Cormac McCarthy - Book Review

Write on: Tue, 07 Jul 2020 by  in Archive Read 2754

There is something addictive with Cormac McCarthy’s writing, his unequal prose, the sheer brutality and bleakness of it, The Road is one of the greatest works of art, one I will continue to read and re-read for the rest of my life.



 “Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave.”


A note about the author. He is in my eyes, a literary genius. His writing feels so natural but powerful, and he is consistently great (from what I have read). The stories he tells are so different, once again proving what a sublime writer he is.


“If you break little promises, you'll break big ones.”


The Road, from the outset, is a tale of a journey from one place to another, traversing the bleak landscapes of an apocalypse ridded America. The Road, at its heart, is the relationship between a man and his son, the determination and last rays of hope for a father trying his best to protect the one thing in the world precious to him, his young son.


“You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.” 


This is not a book of characters defying all odds, battling hordes of cannibal marauders (there are in it though, and yes, they were terrifying). It is a book of a father painfully aware of his frail ability to keep his son protected. 


“What would you do if I died?

If you died I would want to die too.

So you could be with me?

Yes. So I could be with you.



With a gun and only two bullets, no other ways of fending off the sparse living, the snow creeping in, a distinct lack of food and shelter, the man and the boy decide to travel the road, towards the sea. 


“Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.”


The dialogue is another element of what makes this book fantastic. It is so bare, but so direct and effective, it makes you think what life would actually be like if there was an apocalypse. The relationship between the man and the boy  is beautifully written, stripped of everything but the bones of the love between a father a son, they are all the other has.


“What's the bravest thing you ever did?

He spat in the road a bloody phlegm. Getting up this morning, he said.”



5/5 - At 241 pages, The Road has within it some of the greatest writing ever written. I felt the growing dread seeping from the pages, the frustrations of the lack of food, the terrifying encounters with cannibals and other life on the road. Give The Road a go.

Last modified on Thursday, 16 December 2021 15:15

I am a part-time viking, part-time knight and a full-time teacher. You’ll see me in the corner wearing a coat of mail reading a good book.