Posted 09 November 2009 - 08:20 AM
Thoughts on The Road
First I want to say, after reading the book I looked at a trailer for the movie and decided I wouldnâ€™t see the movie as it ruins the â€śspellâ€ť the book weaves with its minimalist profundity in portraying environment, character and action. I had earlier wondered how a film would depict the ash-laden air and ground â€“ and I see the movie didnâ€™t. Plus it added scenes (this just from the trailer!) and actions. Every addition detracts. From this book it does. I didnâ€™t want the images of the book in my mind polluted by Hollywood stuff. Perhaps the movie has its good qualities â€“ but I donâ€™t care. The book was enough!
The genre, post-apocalyptic fiction, by including the word derived from the Greek apokalupsis underlying the English Bibleâ€™s, The Revelation of Saint John the Divine, gives a nod to the namesake and prototype of the genre (although there was â€śapocalypticâ€ť lit in the pre-Christian era, i.e., the Hebrew prophets Daniel, Zechariah, etc., as well as extra-biblical Jewish lit).
Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic literature and films are big now. Itâ€™s something in the air. On the wall. In the collective consciousnessâ€™ intuition. Whenever an entrĂ©e is offered in the genre it stands in the light of the prototype. Pulitzer prize or no, in this light The Road lacks. Which is not to say it is not brilliant or profound, but apocalyptic these days is measured against a standard.
The Road shows the effects of a world-devastating nuclear (?) holocaust and widespread firestorms, with almost all life â€“ plant, animal, marine â€“ destroyed, save for a few humans, perhaps a dog here and there, and who knows what else. But this is not to be the fate of earth and humankind, not according to the exemplar of prophetic vision. It may perhaps be the case with a country or continent, but not the entire earth or humankind. Different things are in store for the world, which is not to say that a nuclear exchange may not happen.
That said, the vision The Road shows is terrifying. What we are capable of, what is possible, even if but on a local scale.... say if the US were thoroughly nuked, razed with subsequent firestorms, and we were quarantined, unable to get to other countries, those who survived. But even such could not equal the utter devastation the book envisions.
This was my first Cormac McCarthy book, and I was surprised at its power. It was masterfully written. Iâ€™m not interested in reading any of his others.
The â€śexemplarâ€ť I mentioned, the apostle Johnâ€™s Revelation, is a fascinating subject, and I wonâ€™t go on about it now, though it does show things that are to come, and dynamics of spiritual, political, and religio-philosophical trends that shall make the world into a different kind of hell than McCarthy imagined, and, ultimately â€“ in the long run, not the short â€“ immeasurably worse (is that possible? Yes). For some.
No, I am not of the Left Behind school, but a careful student of prophecy, and a Jew who takes these things very seriously, for we are surely in days anciently written of.