The Road – Cormac McCarthy

It’s been a “bookish” day today. I sped up to town when I found out that Foyles in London had some work in stock by a poet I’ve been wanting to read for some time. I want to blog about her later this weekend, once I’ve had a chance to actually read some of her work in depth. But browsing amongst the books today got me thinking about those that have really had an impact and whose words have stayed with me, echoing inside. There are, as you can imagine, quite a few. And yet I’ve been a little reticent to mention books on my blog. And I’m not sure why. So perhaps that’s something I should remedy.

One of the books that really slammed into me (metaphorically speaking) was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It wasn’t simply the harrowing story of a post-apocalyptic world that stirred the emotions but the central relationship at the heart of the story – that between a father and son. I’m a sucker (as they say) for anything remotely connected to fathers and sons. And The Road is a particularly moving account of a deep and abiding love; one which is surprisingly tender despite the savagery of the bleak and desolate landscape in which the father and son journey across.

If you’ve only heard of or seen the film I urge you to try the book. As is often the case, watching the film isn’t a patch on reading the book. McCarthy’s prose is nearly radically minimalist – even the dialogue is almost desperately sparse:

“Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said. You might want to think about that.
You forget some things, don’t you?
Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.”

Yet because of their brevity every sentence seems to count. It’s this minimalism and the intensity of the images that the author paints in your mind that are almost impossible to translate to a screen and much of the quiet, contained power of those swift sentences is lost in the translation.

Where that power, intensity and tenderness have translated well though has been into the incredible sore for the film. Composed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis the music is really quite beautiful and is almost a perfect evocation of the soul-stirring words contained within the book. Below are two of the standout tracks. And as for the book? It may sound utterly depressing and it’s true that it’s no easy read in terms of tone but it’s very far from maudlin or morbid and for something to tug at the heart-strings it’s very hard to beat…

Play track: The Road

Play track: The Beach

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: