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The Road


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#21 opus

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 12:34 PM

QUOTE (Buckeye Jones @ Jan 28 2009, 09:45 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I like how McCarthy does not name his characters--we the readers fill in with our own names, I guess. It was hard not to think of my oldest son while reading this book.

I bought The Road before my son was born, but now, it's impossible for me not to think of Simon whenever I pick it back up, which makes it all the more heartwrenching.

QUOTE (Buckeye Jones @ Jan 28 2009, 09:45 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The woman at the end tries to tell the Boy about God--and speaks to him of God's breath running through him--a nod to Genesis even in the midst of this exilic apocalypse.

This is one of my favorite parts of the book.

For me, at least, it's a simple-yet-poignant description of how a child, especially a child who has been through what the Boy has been through, would understand God. Given all that his father's done for him, I think it's only natural that the Boy can think of God only in terms of his father. Plus, earlier in the book, the Boy and the Man are described as "the other's entire world" (or something like that), and I find that to be a natural conclusion to such a thought.

#22 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 01:17 PM

QUOTE (opus @ Jan 28 2009, 12:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (Buckeye Jones @ Jan 28 2009, 09:45 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I like how McCarthy does not name his characters--we the readers fill in with our own names, I guess. It was hard not to think of my oldest son while reading this book.

I bought The Road before my son was born, but now, it's impossible for me not to think of Simon whenever I pick it back up, which makes it all the more heartwrenching.



Isn't that so true! I don't remember how old Simon is now, but once they start talking and making coherent sentences its such a heartwarming thing--and heartrending in the experience of projecting onto the Boy in the road. The other day we were having dinner at my Mom's with all the cousins etc. Dominic is the third youngest, but at 3 1/4 he's able to interact well with the other bigger kids. One of the cousin's was going to a local indoor amusement park a la Chuck E Cheese (do you have those in the Plains?) called Crazy City.

Well, the cousin was spouting off about going to "Crazy Town" and Dominic asked, "Can I go to Crazy Town?" I didn't know what it was--I thought it was a figure of speech he didn't grasp, and with so many little kids running around at the house, I just replied, "Sure, I think we're all going to Crazy Town."

Now, we kept hearing him argue with some other cousins throughout dinner, "My dad said I can go to Crazy Town" and his other cousins push back, "You're too little to go!". He responded with such vehemence that NO, he was going because his DAD said he could.

What a pain to find out about Crazy City being a real place and having to explain to him that in fact, he was not going.

All that to say, McCarthy nails the tension between father and son as the boy struggles to deal with the position his father takes about being a "good" person with the reality that the father kills, refuses to help, and lashes out at the other people around them.

Edited by Buckeye Jones, 28 January 2009 - 01:17 PM.


#23 Overstreet

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 05:27 PM

What the heck?

This writer is talking about The Road as if he's seen it.

QUOTE
Philosophically, Blindness raises an important question about the fine line between humanity and inhumanity, order and chaos: At what point do individuals cease to behave like human beings and turn into animals whose sole concern is survival?

In the same fashion, John Hillcoat’s new film, The Road, based on Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, brilliantly illustrates what it would be like if everything burned away, if health and all the comforts of life suddenly vanished. It stars Viggo Mortensen as a dying man and Kodi Smit-McPhee as his young son. Over a period of several months, they journey through American towns and cities that have been devastated by an unnamed cataclysm.

The sky is grey. Rivers are black. The landscape is covered in soot and littered with corpses. There are no crops. There is no warmth. No semblance of safety.

Instead, the remaining few wear scavenged, ill-fitting clothing and layers of plastic bags for insulation. They trudge across a pitiless terrain, desperately avoiding bands that wield hand-hewn weaponry to enslave, rape and even cannibalize. It’s as if the film urges against the kind of bellicose behaviour seen during the U.S.-led War on Terror.

Although incredibly bleak in its depiction of the future, The Road also offers hope of human decency. The protagonists’ survival depends on the virtues of integrity and compassion. In the face of many obstacles, father and son maintain the faith that humanity can still exist in the badlands. They repeatedly assure one another that they are among “the good guys” who are “carrying the fire.”

America has refocused the lens through which it sees itself. Both Meirelles and Hillcoat use made-up calamities to magnify the various crises the nation faces. Both show the various ways people respond to a catastrophe. At the same time, they ask audiences to reflect on the dangerous fragility of social order itself.



#24 Jason Panella

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 05:52 PM

Hmm. He could've seen it in one of those test screenings that Miramax had several months ago in NYC. Or he could just be full of crap.

#25 Steve R

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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 wouldn’t see the movie as it ruins the “spell” 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 – and I see the movie didn’t. Plus it added scenes (this just from the trailer!) and actions. Every addition detracts. From
this book it does. I didn’t want the images of the book in my mind polluted by Hollywood stuff. Perhaps the movie has its good qualities – but I don’t care. The book was enough!


The genre,
post-apocalyptic fiction, by including the word derived from the Greek apokalupsis underlying the English Bible’s, The Revelation of Saint John the Divine, gives a nod to the namesake and prototype of the genre (although there was “apocalyptic” 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. It’s something in the air. On the wall. In the collective consciousness’ intuition. Whenever an entrée 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 – plant, animal, marine – 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. I’m not interested in reading any of his others.


The “exemplar” I mentioned, the apostle John’s
Revelation, is a fascinating subject, and I won’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 – in the long run, not the short – 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.

#26 Overstreet

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 10:11 AM

For what it's worth, Steve, there are scenes in the trailer that aren't in the movie. But you're making a perfectly reasonable decision to avoid the movie. The book really does cast an incredible spell, and the movie doesn't enhance it or equal it. I'm still impressed with the film, but no, if you've read the book there's no compelling argument to see the film as well.

Oh, and by the way, it's great to see you on A&F!

#27 Christian

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 09:33 AM

I'm double-posting this McCarthy interview link, which I've posted in the Road film-discussion thread, because it applies as much, maybe more, to the book of The Road, and to the writing process, as it does to the film and filmmaking.

#28 Cunningham

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 10:07 AM

I'm double-posting this McCarthy interview link, which I've posted in the Road film-discussion thread, because it applies as much, maybe more, to the book of The Road, and to the writing process, as it does to the film and filmmaking.

Incredible interview. Thanks so much for linking that.

#29 Steve R

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 03:27 PM

Yes, thanks for that interview!

#30 Tyler

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 07:00 PM

I'm rereading The Road for one of my grad classes, and I just came to this sentence near the end of the book: "The salitter drying from the earth." Since I'm still trying to be a dutiful student, I looked up salitter, only to discover it doesn't exist on dictionary.com; when I Googled it, though, I found this blog post that explained it:

Salitter seems only to have occurred, used in this way, in the writings of Jakob Boehme, a 17th century German Christian mystic. Here is enough of what he says about it, to begin to understand the exquisite choice made by McCarthy in using the word:“What is in Paradise is made of the celestial Salitter..[it] is clear, resplendent..The forces of the celestial Salitter give rise to celestial fruits flowers, and vegetation.” (1.)

Salitter, as used by Boehme, as used by McCarthy, is the essence of God. It is the essence of God which is “drying from the earth” in this apocalyptic novel. It is the end of the Earth for humanity, and also the abandonment of the Earth by what had been divine.


Sometimes, you just have to love the internet.

[edit] While I was reading, I just saw a commercial for Snuggies that used the "Macarena" song. The inescapable conclusion is that this will cause the end of the world.

Edited by Tyler, 13 September 2010 - 07:31 PM.


#31 Overstreet

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 07:14 PM

Wow.

Today, you're my hero, Tyler.

#32 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 11:06 AM

Josh MacIvor-Andersen at Ruminate Magazine:

... These days, the collective imagination seems to center on the myth of endings. We are all zombies and empty streets and makeshift crossbows. God, it seems, has hightailed it into the cosmos.

The Road was a natural fit. In it we see perhaps the final evolution of the monster. From Beowulf, where grotesque, non-human “others” are off hording gold or terrorizing the mead-hall, to Frankenstein, where the monster emerges from human invention and hubris, to The Road, where the monsters are simply us—no more bloated physique or toothy maws. Just desperate, hungry people at the bottom of a slippery ethical slope.

And we get a nice updating of the classic hero’s journey, too, where a character is asked on (or forced into) a quest where he or she must cross a threshold from the known to the unknown, battle and die and resurrect, only to return home with some kind of elixir ...