Friday, May 04, 2007

all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery

I've not read the entirety of Cormac McCarthy's catalog, but each of his half-dozen novels I've read is post-apocalyptic. Calling The Road post-apocalyptic is therefore redundant, but understandable given that there is a genre of novels entitled thusly and this one is well-situated therein.

What does post-apocalyptic mean? In McCarthy's worldview life itself is a grand apocalypse continuous in its unfurling. Men move about his works, buffeted more often than not counter to their aims by the calamatous unwinding of time. Some manage through will, luck, or pluck to forge a hardscrabble existence; others fail and are swept aside, detritus gathered in the mossy eddies of life's bitter stream. Any beauty found is accidental and fleeting, any order artificial, and morals are the artifice of weak men used to control the strong and free.

The Road stands with the best of McCarthy's novels, the ones I love best: Child of God, Outer Dark, and Blood Meridian. Morality, law, and beauty might be foolish and temporary attempts to restrain the random and chaotic, but McCarthy laments their loss nonetheless in this gorgeous bleak book, humane and terrible. Love blooms brightly in its awful pages, and the tender finale could jerk a tear from the driest eye. Put down whatever you're reading and hit The Road.


Silenus said...

The Coen Brothers filmed his previous book, "No Country For Old Men." It's coming out in the fall. I've not read "The Road" but I greatly enjoyed his last book.

geoff said...

Cool. The Road would make a great flick. The new, dark Spielberg should do it.

Anonymous said...

shoo-oui! didn't conceive the possibility of anything more bleak and more lyrically grotesque (if less bloody) than Blood Meridian!

and the tears surely came rolling in the last few pages as from no other book in my reading ~ the last coda paragraph somehow gets to a language beyond adequate commentary ~

if only Orson Welles could do this one in black and white ~ but who could be the man? and who could be the boy?

geoff said...

The man? Someone thin, anguished, yet strong. Someone with a fierce tenderness whose range runs the gamut from hope to haplessness. Jeremy Irons? Perhaps too mellifulous. Harry Dean Stanton?

The boy is an unknown at this time.