book report # 4: off the road

The Road  by Cormac McCarthy.

One of those books that you finish reading and think, I KNEW I SHOULDN’T HAVE READ THIS.

Of course, the fact that I read the last third of it by booklight in the middle of a 12-hour blackout from a never-ending thunderstorm probably contributed to the aura of despair.


I remember the glowing reviews in the paper when this book came out.  A father and son’s journey to safety through an Armegeddonic landscape.  (That’s right.  Armegeddonic.  If Cormac can do without apostrophes, I can add a few letters to a word.)

282 pages of horror, indescribable fear, starvation, cannibalism, rape, desolation and death, death, death.

5 pages of semi-hope.

Mostly apostrophe free.

Here’s the thing.  The longer the book dragged on…the more grey ash, cracklin’ dead trees and sludgy creek water there was…


I hated this book.  I hated the fact that everyone on the road wanted to rape and eat the little boy.  I hated the stupid father dragging him through all that suffering.  I hated that the world was dead, with no explanation.  I hated that they were always dirty, cold, hungry and afraid.  A whole book’s worth.

Did I mention the cannibals?


But I fixated on the apostropheless contractions.  What kind of person thinks he can just discard apostrophes willy-nilly?  Who died and made him the King of Punctuation?  Why, he has no respect for the laws of nature nor the laws of man!


Then I realized: the whole book has no respect for the human psyche.

People want to spend several evenings of their life on a book that gives them something to cheer for, or something to think about, or even something to disagree with.

The Road  gives you nothing.  287 pages of People Ain’t No Damn Good.

I can read the newspaper for that.


About Lisha Cauthen

Lisha Cauthen writes YA novels for guys that girls like to read too.

Posted on June 10, 2008, in book report, mind and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’m sorry to disagree with you, but I’m going to. Maybe you missed the whole point of the book, which was the father-son relationship. That was the glimmer of hope in all the darkness. Its beautiful, and beautifully written in my opinion. I would recommend it to anyone who is serious about reading.

  2. Disagree away!


    The father-son relationship was the saddest thing of all, to me. The boy still had a conscience. His father, in his illness and despair had lost his.

    The father had to be persuaded to help the sick, old man.

    He couldn’t be persuaded to help the people who were being kept for a main course, or the little boy hiding, and perhaps alone.

    Finally, when he caught the man who had stolen their cart, he not only took the cart back but stripped him down and left him to die. The boy had to plead with him to give the clothes back, and by then, we assume it was too late.

    Besides all the physical deprivation and constant fear, the boy had to watch his father become no better than the marauding bands, in his inability to see the humanity in others.

    Was it bravery that drove the father onward, or was it cowardice?

    There are so many things that are worse than death, and the father put his son through just about every one of them.

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