Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road'

Alan Cheuse reviews The Road by Cormac McCarthy. The book is about a father and son journey undertaken amidst a post-atomic apocalypse.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Cormac McCarthy has recently published a new novel. It's called The Road. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, says it's a dark book that glows with the intensity of McCarthy's genius for language.

ALAN CHEUSE: Cormac McCarthy, who could turn the instructions for operating a microwave oven into something resembling a King James Bible, ventures here in his own way into science fiction. The Road is a post-atomic apocalypse novel, as we've never seen it before. A blast has changed the world forever. The clock stopped at 1:17, we hear. A long shear of light and then a series of low concussions. Survivors suffer from endless physical and psychic concussions.

Among these are a father and son traveling from north to south on the East Coast of the United States. The man's wife has committed suicide and since then, man and boy have been on the road salvaging what they can in a region ravaged by pitiless cannibals, their travels circumscribed by gray sunless days and nights that are sightless and impenetrable.

As readerss we do something similar, reading our way into a scenario in which light is spare, danger ever present and the only hope the possibility of the remnants, food and clothing and shelter, of a civilization that will never return. On this road we hear there are no God, spoke men. They are gone. The only one speaking remotely like a God is the writer himself. Shoring old linguistic ruins against the bleakness.

BLOCK: The book is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

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