Strongly recommend the novel "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy!

First, it is a quick read. That matters to me!

Second, God is openly discussed in the novel.

Third, it seems to be a very effective dramatization of the eternal conflict between those the Two Types of Souls:

a) Those souls who for whom “love thy neighbor as thyself” and “love is the fulfillment of the law” are true guiding principles in their lives.

b) Those souls who will exploit and harm others to secure their own survival and/or their advancement in life, and who seem to exemplify this Bible verse: Philippians 3:19: “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach…”

[Perhaps there is a third type too, in the novel, represented by the wife and mother who kills herself rather than continue on with trying to survive in a context that seems hopeless.]

The story of “The Road” is set in Appalachia and the Gulf of Mexico several years after some unspecified event that has killed most people and killed all plant and animal life. It is the story of a father and a son trying to survive and get to a better place.

Even though it set in such a strange context, I think many readers immediately see it as an analogy to our present modern “civilized” world, where these two types of souls exist and have vastly different agendas and ways of life.

If anyone else here has already read this novel, I’d love to read their comments on it, especially in connection with the Catholic view of life and eternity.


P.S. I saw the author interviewed on TV, and he said he prays to God, even though he says hasn’t got God all figured out.

How does the novel compare to the movie version?

I haven’t read any of his novels, but have a couple short stories. I found them to be… difficult.

The novel has much more discussing of God than the movie.

Also, at least one crucial scene is left out of the movie version.

To me, though, the movie is okay. I liked both. I saw the movie first. It had a big impact on me. Then I read the novel, and I loved it more than the movie.

Both the movie and the book have these repeated lines:

–“We’re still the good guys, right?”
–“We’re carrying the fire.”

All in all, I think the novel makes the story more clearly applicable to our daily life in the real world, and makes it more clearly a symbolic dramatization of what the whole drama of the story of Salvation and Damnation is about according to the True Faith.

The novel was easy to read. It really only has two characters. They are on a journey from one place in the mountains to the ocean. They have an old road map. They mostly travel on old roads. Bad people try to kill them and rob them.

The one thing that was a little annoying is that the author refuses to use quotation marks, so it was sometimes a little hard to figure out who was talking, the father or the son.

But this is not a difficult book to read. Very straightforward story.

True, lots of things are never explained. The story never explains what global catastrophe happened. But this is natural. The story is mostly conversation and events with a man and his 8 year old son. So they talk about simple things that such a boy can talk about.

I think this story shows what Christian “agape” love means better than many theological or catechetical or apologetical books do.

I’d recommend this book to anyone wanting to see and feel the essence of the Catholic Faith!

Excellent novel. One of the other important themes of the book is carrying the fire, or preserving light in a world full of darkness. For anyone who enjoyed the road or just apocalyptic/science fiction in general I heartily recommend The Postman and A Canticle for Leibowitz


Do you approve of and recommend the Kevin Costner film of “The Postman”?

I really did not enjoy this book. I wish I remembered why, it has been a few years. I just remember it was really depressing and I couldn’t figure out what would make an author want to write that particular story. I’m not saying I require a light-hearted tale. I have yet to meet someone who read it, besides me, who did not like it.

I love The Road, and first read it at a very formative time in my life, maybe three years ago. It prefigured my growing contempt for modernity and my eventual slide into Catholicism.

I always read it as allegorical of the condition of modern man: trapped in a spiritual wasteland and surrounded by ignorant and vicious hateful, self-centered, consequentialist savages.

Well said Master sw85 !!!

Your comment reminds me of John 1:47: “Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, and said of him, ‘Look! behold a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile’!”

Yes I approve of and recommend the film. It is not quite as deep as the book so I would definetly recommend reading the book first. The execution of the movie can come off as a bit cheesy at some times.

McCarthy is one of the best living writers.

I absolutely loved the book, I’m writing my thesis on “The Road”. Amazing novel.

I thought it was a great book but it was so overwhelmingly depressing. I read the obituaries afterward to cheer me up.

I can tell I have become too accustomed to the terrible facebook because I keep looking for a like button to like your comment. :thumbsup:

Hahaha, I do that myself quite a bit. It’s really bad when I haven’t had any sleep. I’ll look for that like button for a few minutes, then feel like a real dope when I realize I’m on here, or in a chat window, etc.

Great! Perhaps you may have answers to these questions:

(1) What happened to the missing bullet? I think the man’s wife says she should have used the gun when they still had three bullets. But when the main part of the story is taking place, at the start, before the man fires the gun at the man holding a knife on his boy, the gun has only two guns.

(2) At the start of the cataclysmic event, the man goes to the bathroom to fill up the tub, apparently since he wants to have drinking water. His wife says, “Why are you taking bath?” He replies, “I’m not.” Does this mean that the man had some foreknowledge that a cataclysmic event was coming soon? Was he perhaps some sort of scientists, or military official? Is that the hint that the author is giving us?

(3) What environmental catastrophe would allow humans to survive but prevent ALL plant growth? That puzzles me. As I read the novel, there is ZERO plant growth, and had been one for years. What could cause that, but yet allow humans to survive? Cold weather (in ranges that humans can survive in) and diminished sunlight cannot alone kill off ALL plant life. Some forms of plant grown even in Antarctica and the Arctic Circle, especially in the oceans. That’s what the penguins eat at the South Pole, and what fishes eat in the Arctic Circle. So what could have happened? Nuclear war? Global warming followed by global cooling? Asteroid hit the earth? But none of those would seem to allow humans to survive sleeping on the ground under blankets and also kill off ALL the plant life.

(4) Why does Cormac McCarthy get to use tons and tons sentence fragments in “The Road,” when all the rest of us are criticized as illiterate if we write that way? I mean, why do publishers put up with that? If Cormac turned in a short story like that in high school, he’d get a failing grade! Those sentence fragments really made it hard for me to read his book!

She says “when it still had three bullets,” i.e., there are two bullets remaining. Presumably they had to shoot someone at some point while she was still alive.

The clocks stopped at 1:17. A long shear of light and then a series of low concussions.

The man discovered the power was out, looked out the window, and saw something. Whatever he saw told him everything he needed to know. Whatever it was, was sufficient to cause a “dull rose glow in the window glass.” I.e., fire, and lots of it.

Really, none of these things would account for it. Even the effects of nuclear war would largely dissipate within 5 years. An asteroid would be more likely to cause an ice age, I’d think. Maybe a supervolcano. At any rate, it doesn’t matter, because it’s not really the point.

Well, think of the story he’s telling with it. Short, brutal, austere, fragmented, solipsistic. Of course it’ll be written in terse, expressionistic bursts. Long, ponderous memoirs are reserved for the living. Men on the run dash out their thoughts in a hurry.

Thank goodness he didn’t turn this book into a high school English teacher for “corrections.” A writer has a style; a writing teacher has a style guide.

Sentence fragments are fine. Nothing wrong with them. Meaning still retained. You can even end your sentence with a preposition if you want to.

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