Tuesday, December 29, 2009
So, I received McCarthy's The Road for Christmas. It wasn't on my Christmas list, but I've wanted to read it for some time, so I was thrilled when I opened a gift bag and saw it there in all its beauty. I think I actually squealed with glee.
Whenever there's a book I have been looking forward to reading, I'm hesitant because sometimes my high expectations can doom how I end up feeling about the book. Soon, I had snuggled in with my cozy red blanket, some rasberry hot chocolate, snow on the ground outside, expectations in check, and my son next to me reading The Tao of Chess. And, it was in this way that I began.
I like that the book is a metaphor for THE journey, representative of what appears for all of us during great times of trouble and strife: what we believe in and why, whether it's worth the effort to carry on, how holding onto what's good can become extremely difficult in times of desperation.
The plot is that of a father and son trying to make it to the coast, hoping to find warmer weather and more "good guys" after an apocalyptic catastrophe. Death is imminent. They are always on the brink of starvation or of being killed by fellow wanderers. The son is more trusting of others than the father. And, the father admits to himself that the only thing between him and death is his son. He calls his son a "god."
The dialogue between father and son is achingly realistic. The son tries to keep the father in check, and the father tries to reassure the son. The father tells his son happy stories, but the boy soon doesn't want to hear them anymore because they are just stories and have nothing to do with his reality. The plot and the dialogue hit home for reasons I won't go into here, but I think many people could relate to what it feels like to be afraid but have the need to survive despite their worst fears, or even to spite their worst fears.
I won't give away the ending so as not to ruin it for all of my thousands of readers out there, but I was primarily left with the feeling that trying matters. Sure, the end is not what I would hope for the father or the son. But, in the end, what happened matters. Their relationship matters. What we do in the world, to the world, matters.