Books, books, books! Mostly a collection of reviews and lists for reading challenges.
Friday, September 26, 2008
The Road--Cormac McCarthy
Genre: Fiction Rating: 5 Pages: 256 Year Published: 2006
This is the third McCarthy book I have read this year, and it is definately my favorite. It certainly tells less than the previous two (All the Pretty Horses and No Country For Old Men), but oh does it tell it in a gorgeous way.
The story is about the post-apocalyptic journey of a father and son. Very little backstory is told. It is never made clear what has happened to the world, or even why they are embarking on this journey to the coast. The disappearance of the boy's mother is mentioned in one short passage. The rest of the story is the account of their difficult journey through a world that is bleak at best; terrifying at worst. It is an illustration of most vile aspects of human nature, countered with that which makes humanity beautiful--love.
The language in this novel is incredible. Every word McCarthy uses is chosen with care. He weaves them together to create a bleak tapestry of imagery, which somehow manages to be stark and rich at the same time. Example: "...Glass floats covered witha gray crust. The bones of seabirds. At the tide line a woven mat of weeds and the ribs of fishes in their millions stretching along the shore as far as eye could see like an isocline of death. One vast salt sepulchre. Senseless. Senseless."
The story is sad, but not a piercing kind of sadness. It is a grey, trudging, endless sadness peppered with moments of color and relief which quickly turn back to resignation. "And the dreams so rich in color. How else would death call you? Waking in the cold dawn it all turned to ash instantly. Like certain ancient frescoes entombed for centuries suddenly exposed to the day." The characters can't possibly go on like this, but somehow they do...until they can't.
As bleak as the story is, it is a story of hope. The father and son represent the goodness and honor in humanity--the father the dutiful soldier who does what he has to to fulfill his duty; the son the symbol of goodness, light, compassion. And even in the end there is hope, for hope must continue. Someone must go on to carry the fire.
Book-a-Week #47 Challenge/s: New Classics Challenge, RIP III
For as long as she can remember, Lisa Litberg has loved to write. Over the years she has amassed quite a collection of short stories and poetry, but Free is her first novel. A high school teacher for 15 years, she tries to empower her urban students with the written word. When she isn’t writing or teaching, Lisa might be dancing, singing with a cover band or performing her own songs with a guitar, but it’s more likely she’s hanging out in her Chicago apartment with her son Trevor watching The Walking Dead.
"The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience." (Atticus, To Kill a Mockingbird;Harper Lee) "But maybe the last part of the symphony was the music she loved the best--glad and like the greatest people in the world running and springing up in a hard, free way. Wonderful music like this was the worst hurt there could be. The whole world was this symphony, and there was not enough of her to listen." (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers)
"Dark of the invisible moon. The nights now only slightly less black. By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp." (The Road; Cormac McCarthy)
"There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened." (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Douglas Adams)
"I ought not to have listened to her," he confided to me one day. "One never ought to listen to the flowers. One should simply look at them and breathe their fragrance. Mine perfumed all my planet. But I did not know how to take pleasure in all her grace. This tale of claws, which disturbed me so much, should only have filled my heart with tenderness and pity."
And he continued his confidences: "The fact is that I did not know how to understand anything! I ought to have judged by deeds and not by words. She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me. I ought never to have run away from her... I ought to have guessed all the affection that lay behind her poor little strategems. Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her..." (The Little Prince; Anton de Saint-Exupery)
Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead. (Betting on the Muse; Charles Bukowski)
Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business. (Tom Robbins)
But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. (The Prophet; Kahlil Gibran)
You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body. (C.S. Lewis)
"For in a swift radiance of illumination he saw a glimpse of human struggle and of valor. Of the endless fluid passage of humanity through endless time. And of those who labor and of those who--one word--love." (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers)