Over the past three days, I read Cormac McCarthy's book The Road. It's not a book I would normally pick up on my own intiative. The young Inkslinger recommended it to me. I have liked many of the books he has written about, so I took his word for it that I would like this book.
The story is about a man and his son in a post-apocalyptic world, traveling together, trying to survive. I was at first taken aback at the sentences being about 50% fragments. Many don't have verbs. It is stark, sparse prose, but it fits with the atmosphere of the story, which is harsh and desolate. There is always wet surrounding them, wet and ash and snow. They are cold, hungry, desperate. The dialogue is also as stark as their surroundings. The fact that none of the contractions used had apostrophes startled me at first, as did the lack of quotations marks for the dialogue, but again, it fit.
The power of the story is the love between the father and the son. As a mother, I felt desperate right along with the father. Thinking back to times when I was afraid as a child, I sympathized with the boy. We don't know their names, but we see right inside of their souls as they move along. In a word, it was gripping.
The only other book I've had a similar reaction to is Angela's Ashes, and in that book, the desolation of the author frequently finds itself expressed with humour. This book doesn't really do that, but it's good all the same. The ending was satisfying. The reader senses that there is no "happy ending" in this story, only something that makes sense. This one did.
As I said, it's not a book I would normally choose, and I don't know if it's one I'll read again soon. But I will read it again. The way McCarthy uses words is sheer genius. Economy is too bland a word to describe how it was. It was like contained power.
There is a movie version. I don't know if I'll watch it. But I'm glad I took a couple of days to read this book. There is such a great feeling having a book you don't want to put down.