Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I don’t often pick up fiction books, although when I do I usually enjoy them. They are much more fast-paced and typically easier to digest than a textbook, and they give creative perspective. I stumbled upon The Road by Cormac McCarthy while reading a blog called The Art of Manliness. The blog by Brett McKay has a ton of helpful tips for men that often are passed from father to son (but not always) like how to tie a Windsor knot or how to make conversation with others. It’s a great blog by the way, but that is content for another post. J Brett had written a post about The Road, and said that he has read it every year as a bit of a tradition. His post inspired me to check out the book.

I probably should have been more aware of the book long before Brett’s post though. The book was made into a movie in 2009, and it also won the Pulitzer Prize in 2006. Reading this book evoked images for me of something like a Mad Max or Book of Eli post-apocalyptic world. The land was cold, and the people left on earth were struggling to survive.

The story is one of a journey of survival for a father and son through a wasteland. A journey filled with people who were bent on evil—robbers, cannibals, and many other unsavory and untrustworthy people. The father had made it his mission to protect his son and keep them both alive for as long as he could.

He used a metaphor with his son to emphasize character, “Carrying the fire.” People who carry the fire, are not cannibals, they are the good guys. The father and son reminded one another regularly that they were the good guys as they struggled to survive, and struggled to do the right thing as they traveled the road.

For me, the book, while a sobering look at love for one’s family, and the hard choices many people have to face for daily living, was more of a book about character and love. How will I raise my child to be a person of good character? What kind of person am I becoming by my own routines? How am I making the most of the limited time I have on this earth to care for others?

I recommend The Road, but I don’t think I’ll make it an annual reading. It is a dark and gripping story of a world that has largely lost its way and lost hope, but through the love of this father and son, a cold and unrelenting post-apocalyptic world seems like cannot hinder the power of virtue to shine forth through the darkness.

Whatever the darkness that may encompass our own lives, may we ever be mindful that faith, hope, and love abide, and even more so, may we, as we are able, seek to push back the darkness and live as ambassadors of hope.

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