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The Road

 The Road, by Cormac McCarthy's has been converted into a road movie, staring Viggo Mortenson, a film that was both acclaimed and hated; described as uplifting and depressing. My second road movie is You would think that at the end of Cormac’s The Road, there would be no hope. But I found this novel superb. There are cadences of prose that are magical, transporting, and an elemental simplicity and a true parable for life.Although the style is almost as deceptively simple as Joyces, this is a book that paints a dystopian picture of the planet’s - and human kind’s - future. He keeps the pressure on the reader by never showing them quite what they should be scared of; a master approach, which means this book will haunt the reader for year, as they relive the sounds of burnt trees crashing to earth, and the moaning, perpetual wind, and the bitter ice of the land. McCormac peers into an abysmal future and what he sees are the darkest corners of human existence.’

As many have pointed out before me, he's unafraid to stare into the abyss. He's peering into the darkest corners of human existence. The man takes his small son along this road, towards the coast, because he’s sure (rather like Harold) that there will be something better for them there. But the route is dreadful. As the small son keeps asking; ‘are those the bad guys?’ ‘Are we the good guys?’ This is the extent of the child’s world. When his father has to kill a man who threatens them, the son asks ‘are we still the good guys?’ The son also has a lack of curiosity that feels strange in a growing boy; his second favourite cry is ‘don’t go in there.’ Most of the time, we’re yelling the same thing.

In a house on the hill, the pair seek food and shelter from the snow covered world. They descend some  rough wooden steps towards an ungodly stench. The writer shows us a stone wall, a clay floor and a mattress darkly stained. Don't go in there, whispers the boy. Huddled against the back wall were naked people, male and female, all trying to hide, shielding their faces with their hands. On the mattress lay a man  in chains with his legs gone to the hip and the stumps of them blackened and burnt, who turn to him and whisper; Help us, please help us.

So the next time there are steps down into a hole, the boy is incandescent with fear, and so is the reader. We are all yelling; Don’t go down there! And so the unremitting terror continues; the battle between the pair of then and the bad guys who eat people alive, but also between the pair of them against the inhospitable climate conditions where they are never warm and dry and between them and other good guys, for early on, when the man uses his gun to kill, it’s established that it is hard to stay a good guy. 

Joyce’s novel ends is tangible hope and a new beginning for the Fry’s. McCormacs ends in death and trust as the boy moves on without him, and with people he does not know. We leave him there, but it is MrCormac’s world I find myself returning to, rather than the tread of Harold’s deck shoes. The world of The Road is as deep as one of those black lakes that have dragons at the bottom.