T Nation

The Road by Cormac McCarthy


I noticed that Iron Dwarf posted this book in his top 10 and I'm actually reading it right now because the movie was FUGGIN AMAZING! A must see film, but the I'm really disappointed by the book. The book has received a shit-ton of "best-ofs" from all the newspapers and even won the pulitzer but I don't care for it at all. Great concept but I can't take the writing style and getting tired of the descriptions of the landscapes (OK, I know it's cold and it's snowing and there's ash everywhere) yet there's almost ZERO about the characters.

And then when there is dialog it appears like:

OK, it's cold.
I know.
I know you know so we're leaving.
But I'm scared.
Don't be scared.

I can't figure out who the fuck is talking! Same reason I dislike Hemingway.

Those that have read it please give me your opinions on the following -

1) Why in the hell did the MAN ever want to travel in winter? It's a suicide mission.

2) Why did they leave the underground shelter? Makes no sense. There's no food left on earth except for that shelter yet the MAN and BOY just have to go south?

3) I find it implausible there are NO animals left that could be used for food. Any animal is more adept at outdoor survival than man is.

4) I'm assuming it's about 8 years after the cataclysm. How can there be no clothes/shoes/guns left (the marauders are mostly using pipes - there's a hundred million guns in the US)? All characters are in dressed like hobos but if most of the people were killed by whatever happened the shops should be full of guns, shoes, etc.

5) The OLD MAN that they give food to would not be alive for a week in that world. I don't buy that the geezer, who can barely walk and see, could find food or not have been killed by the marauders years ago.

ADDED 6) How could I forget to mention - The MAN is pushing a shopping cart on a post-apocalyptic road. I doubt that I could get a shopping cart to my house from the corner grocery but this dude has got a cart that he's pushing through the snow? No way.

Thanks. Again - MOVIE is AMAZING but the book is like a mediocre short story.


I agree, I thought the book was overrated. It was not bad but, people said it was so damn good that it was a let down when I got to it. I really enjoyed Blood Meridian though.


  1. I think the trip was made out of necessity, or that the man believed it to be a necessity. The impression that I got was that the winter was going to kill them if they didn't head south.

  2. The underground shelter could have only sustained them for a while and would have just staved off their inevitable death. Along with warmer temperatures, the only remaining hope of finding a place that could sustain life indefinitely was to head south.

  3. There are probably some small animals around, rodents, bugs, etc in the south. But the vast majority of them succumbed to starvation or were hunted to extinction by the remaining humans.

  4. I think only a small fraction of the population dies in the cataclysm. The rest simply lost their shit as lack of agriculture plunged the populace into starvation. Everything left laying around would have been used up in the death throes of humanity. People would have been doing what the man and boy did often, looting and scavenging anything they could find until it was all used up.

Cheery shit.

I would say that it's a good book, but not much fun to read. I don't think I'd read it again.


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Read the Border Trilogy by McCarthy (All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain). Hands down my favorite fiction I've ever read, and I make sure to reread them at least once a year.

The taste of America that these novels provide is second to none.



Go read these books now if you haven't already. They should be required for anybody that lives in America.


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+1 for the Border Trilogy.

Mad depressing though. Makes you want to stab your eye out with a fork.


I think great art SHOULD make you feel something strongly. Adverse or otherwise. If it's uncomfortable, then so be it. Life isn't always a pretty picture or happy ending.
As a visual artist, I praise McCarthy for his "painting" a clear picture (and especially an emotion) with words.


I disliked the book and the movie, honestly.


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I am of two minds regarding The Road (and his other works).

Captivating writing yet oftentimes annoying.

Great stories yet highly improbable with many logical inconsistencies.

Overall they are must reads.


Never saw the movie, but read the book on a recommendation from a friend whose opinion I really value.
Really took me a while to get into it; I've read SO MUCH that I often get impatient with some authors (Dickens, Dumas, Hunter S. Thompson, and Vonnegut in particular), but always stick it out. By the time I got 2/3 into The Road I finally just gave in to what McCarthy was selling and ended up loving it. But I agree: it definitely takes a certain frame of mind to enjoy the book.