Cormac McCarthy’s The Road: Carrying the Fire

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One of the qualities that most impresses me about this book is its contradictory style.  At its core, it is pared down, stripped like the decaying world it depicts: it lacks most punctuation, the dialogue is short and utilitarian, and the mood is monotone and bleak.  Yet, it’s also rich with vivid description and emotional depth, defying the aforementioned sparseness.  The juxtaposition of the choppy, unadorned passages with the intermittent lyrical prose–the crossroad, if you will– is where the magic happens.

For those who like an eerie, dark read that does not fall within the “horror” category, the imagery McCarthy presents in this novel is beautifully disturbing.  And like many good dystopian and post-apocalyptic reads, much of the unease is created in the visceral feeling a reader gets from the possibility that in circumstances so dire, human nature might devolve to such sinister lows.

Here the “man” and his son have come across an abandoned home.  They approach with trepidation, as they’ve learned sometimes seeking shelter is more dangerous than being out in the open.

“You’re the scout.  I need you to be our lookout…

Do you think somebody is coming?

Yes. Sometime.

You said nobody was coming.

I didnt mean ever…”

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“He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world.  The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth.  Darkness implacable.  The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe.  And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like groundfoxes in their cover.”

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