All The Pretty Horses…

The Road
January 10, 2007, 3:46 pm
Filed under: Reading

The cover looks like a tombstone with good reason.

“The land was gullied and eroded and barren. The bones of dead creatures sprawled in the washes. Middens of anonymous trash. Farmhouses in the fields scoured of their paint and the clapboards spooned and sprung from the wallstuds. All of it shadowless and without feature. The road descended through a jungle of dead kudzu. A marsh where the dead reeds lay over the water. Beyond the edge of the fields the sullen haze hung over the earth and sky alike. By late afternoon it had begun to snow and they went on with the tarp over them and the wet snow hissing on the plastic.”

I read this in about 3-4 hours late one evening (it’s not especially long) and then sat on the sofa and wept for a bit. And went to bed, and on waking felt cold and alone and unsettled.

The story of a man and his young son trying to stay alive in the aftermath of an unspecified apocalypse. What they’re willing to do to survive, and what they aren’t.

It’s probably the bleakest thing I’ve ever read. Left me in bits. Left me feeling pretty much the same as Idi I Smotri did after I watched it. There’s a couple of nods to religion, both in the way the boy behaves and the ending, and in the father’s attitude towards him. But it’s not overly intrusive and I can’t decide either whether McCarthy is pushing this aspect or merely commenting on it.

Nevermind. This is still one of the most astonishing books I’ve ever read.

“My job is to take care of you,” he tells his son. “I was appointed to do that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you.” With everything scraped away, the impulse to sanctify, to worship, to create meaning remains. “All of this like some ancient anointing,” the man thinks after washing his son’s hair in an icy dead lake. “So be it. Evoke the forms. Where you’ve nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.”

edited to add: And John Hillcoat (Ghosts of the Civil Dead / The Proposition) is down to direct, and it’s staying independent / interference free. So that’s going to be a laff riot then….


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jeez…. that’ll be bleak… I hope they’re not tempted to change the ending.

Like you, I read in 3 or 4 hours straight – couldn’t put it down – a deeply affecting book.
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Comment by Doppelganger

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