What's the bleakest, most depressing book you've ever read? If you've meandered down Cormac McCarthy's The Road, chances are it's in your top 5. I read the book about a year ago, and was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the prose, and the bleakness of McCarthy's vision.
For those unfamiliar, the novel is about a father and son (simply called The Man and The Boy) trying to survive a post-nuclear world, dodging roving gangs for whom desperation has led to cannibalism. The goal of The Man and The Boy is simple: "to keep carrying the fire," to remain good in a slowly dying world that is increasingly debauched. The book is really about what happens when humanity is boiled down to its essence, when all notion of culture and decorum is removed. A father's love for his son remains, and love, therefore, must be the source of hope. Otherwise, humanity and decency decay into chaos.
I've hated everything I'd ever read by McCarthy, including Blood Meridian and The Border Trilogy, and only read The Road because it was short, it had won the Pulitzer Prize, and I'd heard it was different than most of McCarthy's other work. It is, and then some, and I absolutely loved it!
I write about this now, because earlier this week, I went to see the movie-ization of The Road, starring Viggo Mortensen. Putting real, concrete images to the bleakness of McCarthy's story certainly had its pros and cons. The landscapes in the movie, gray and lifeless, were beautifully rendered. But several of the more shocking scenes in the novel were even more frightening on the big screen, making me, at least, just incredibly uncomfortable. Even though it takes some intestinal fortitude to enjoy the movie, enjoy it I did. Mortensen is his usual brilliant self, and the child prodigy actor, Kodi Smit-McPhee, who plays The Boy is pretty solid, also. And, for the ladies, there are the usual Viggo Mortensen gratuitous nude shots -- though, thankfully, they don't rival the naked knife fight scene in Eastern Promises. Sweet Lord, that scene scarred me deeply! ;)
Have you read The Road, or seen the movie? What were your impressions?