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The Road ()




Apocalypse Now: Amid fire and torment, a man and his son endure the end of the world as we know it.: a review of The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Ron Charles, Washington Post)
Concurrent with keeping his son alive is the more metaphysical challenge of sustaining his son's innate goodness while forcing him to witness the corruption of all moral behavior. "Are we still the good guys?" the boy asks in moments of confusion and shock. His father insists they are. "This is what good guys do," he tells him. "They keep trying. They dont give up." Why, then, his son asks, won't he help the stragglers they run across instead of running from them or shooting at them? "We should go to him, Papa. We could get him and take him with us. . . . I'd give that little boy half of my food." How to explain the necessity of abandoning others to certain death (or worse, in one particularly terrifying scene) while maintaining that they're "the good guys," the ones "carrying the fire"?

Under these singularly bleak conditions, the boy's nature -- his impulse to help, his anxiety about stealing others' food -- is, of course, naive. But even when fighting for their lives, his father knows that it's a naiveté inspired by the boy's goodness that makes their fight worthwhile, that allows him to resist the age-old temptation "to curse God and die."

The encounter that illumines the final moments of the novel will infuriate McCarthy die-hards who relish his existential bleakness, but the scene confirms earlier allusions that suggest the roots of this end-of-the-world story reach far past the nuclear age to the apocalypse of Christian faith. The book's climax -- an immaculate conception of Pilgrim's Progress and "Mad Max" -- is a startling shift for McCarthy, but a tender answer to a desperate prayer.


The book allows for a number of readings--though all of them Christian. A fable of the love between Father and Son can't help but be read as a Christian allegory, especially when the boy is referred to as a tabernacle and proclaims: "I am the one."

But I was struck throughout by the obvious way in which the author was challenging existentialism. This is the sort of book the mature Camus would have written to rebut his younger self. In particular, Mr. McCarthy makes the direct argument that the man's love for the boy justifies existence and the selflessness of this love is made apparent by the man's sacrifice. Meanwhile, despite a situation of literal lawlessness, the two characters are continuously bothered by whether their actions conform to objective standards of good. The boy is even more insistent on this point than the man, functioning as a prick to his conscience. In a world where existence has been boiled down to little more than the individual and utter freedom seemingly reigns--the ideal condition for the Existential anti-ethos--our heroes reject individualism and freedom, choosing love and the Law instead.

The unrecognized money shot of the book though may come when the man is remembering a special night on the beach with his wife and recalls that: "he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different." The suggestion is that this moment of beauty and love justifies Creation. Perhaps too the love of the man and the boy does, no matter the circumstances under which it occurs. Or, maybe the story alone does. Were you God, wouldn't the capacity of man for such love justify your Work to you? Despite all the awfulness and evil we're likewise capable of?


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A+)


Websites:

See also:

Cormac McCarthy (3 books reviewed)
Science Fiction & Fantasy
Cormac McCarthy Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Cormac McCarthy
    -ENTRY: Cormac McCarthy (Encyclopedia.com)
    -TRIBUTE SITE: CormacMcCarthy.com (The Cormac McCarthy Society)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Cormac McCarthy (IMDB)
    -WIKIPEDIA: No Country for Old Men
    -WIKIPEDIA: No Country for Old Men(film)
    -ENTRY: No Country for Old men (Encyclopedia.com)
    -The Cormac McCarthy Journal (Penn State University Press
    -Cormac McCarthy Papers (Wittliff Collection, Albert B. Alkek Library, Texas State University)
    -Featured Author: Cormac McCarthy (From the Archives of The New York Times)
    -EXCERPT: No Country for Old Men (BookBrowse)
    -READERS GUIDE: No Country for Old Men Reader’s Guide BY CORMAC MCCARTHY (Penguin Random House)
    -POEM: Sailing to Byzantium by William Butler Yeats (Poetry Foundation)
    -WIKIPEDIA: The Road
    -BOOK SITE: The Road (Random House)
    -GOOGLE BOOK: The Road by Cormac McCarthy
    -ESSAY: The Kekulé Problem: Where did language come from? (CORMAC MCCARTHY, APRIL 20, 2017, Nautilus)
    -PROFILE: Cormac McCarthy Explains the Unconscious (Nick Romeo, 4/22/17, The New Yorker)
    -INTERVIEW: Cormac McCarthy on the Santa Fe Institute's Brainy Halls (NICK ROMEO, 2/12/12, Newsweek)
    -PROFILE: Cormac Country: Cormac McCarthy would rather hang out with physicists than other writers. He doesn’t do blurbs, book tours, or even Oprah. But with the publication of his blood-spattered new novel, No Country for Old Men, he gives his first interview in 13 years—since All the Pretty Horses turned him from cult figure into literary star. (RICHARD B. WOODWARD, AUGUST 1, 2005, Vanity Fair)
    -PROFILE: Hollywood's Favorite Cowboy: Author Cormac McCarthy, 76, talked about love, religion, his 11-year-old son, the end of the world and the movie based on his novel 'The Road.' He was just getting going. (John Jurgensen, Nov. 13, 2009 , WSJ)
    -VIDEO: Looking for Cormac
    -INTERVIEW: Harold Bloom on Blood Meridian (Leonard Pierce, 6/15/09, AV Club)
    -ESSAY: Yeats' "Sailing to Byzantium" and McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men": Art and Artifice in the New Novel (Steven Frye, The Cormac McCarthy Journal)
    -ESSAY: Cormac and Oprah, Revisited (AUSTIN ALLEN, 16 January, 2012, Big Think)
    -VIDEO LECTURE: 17. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (Professor Hungerford, Nov 21, 2008, The American Novel Since 1945, Yale Courses)
    -ESSAY: No God for Anton Chigurh? (Jim Emerson March 28, 2008, RogerEbert.com)
    -ESSAY: No Country for Old Literalists (Jim Emerson, November 09, 2007, RogerEbert.com)
    -PROFILE: Cormac McCarthy: America's great poetic visionary: He is the ultimate pessimist, a reclusive soothsayer who makes even Hemingway look touchy-feely. Now, his apocalyptic novel, The Road, is coming to the big screen, bringing his bleak vision to a wider audience (Tim Adams, 19 Dec 2009, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy doesn't know the American south-west: Despite what he has said, plenty of writers before him had written about this region, and many did so a lot better (Christine Granados, 14 Apr 2010, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: Who is the greatest American novelist? 3: Cormac McCarthy v John Fante (Matthew Spencer, 19 Dec 2013, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: No Country For Old Men: 7 Big Differences Between The Book And Movie (HUGH SCOTT, JUN. 19. 2019, Cinema blend)
    -ESSAY: Book vs. Movie: No Country for Old Men (Matt Matros, Ploughshares)
    -ESSAY: The Antiwar Theme in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men (ANQ A Quarterly Journal, October 2016
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy's Venomous Fiction (Richard B. Woodward, April 19, 1992, NY Times Magazine)
    -ESSAY: In the Country of “No Country for Old Men” and On the Trail of Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian”: What I Did for My Summer Vacation (William J. Cobb, August 25, 2017)
    -ESSAY: "As Full of Grief as Age": "King Lear" as Tragic Ancestor to "No Country for Old Men" (Alexander L. Barron, The Cormac McCarthy Journal)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy’s "No Country for Old Men": Narrative Elements in Film and Novel (INESE ROMANOVA, Master's Thesis, 2013)
    -ESSAY: Amphora: American Furies: Justice in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men And the Oresteia Trilogy (Karen Rosenbecker, 05/25/2018, Society for Classical Studies)
    -THESIS: Amoral Antagonists: Interrogating the Myth of the West in Cormac McCarthy's Fiction (John Thomas Arthur, University of Denver, 1-1-2017)
    -ESSAY: No Country for Old Men (Ryan Parker, october 2007, Journal of Religion and Film)
    -ESSAY: DEMOCRACY, JUSTICE, AND TRAGEDY IN CORMAC MCCARTHY'S "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" (Benjamin Mangrum, Autumn 2011, Religion & Literature)
    -PROFILE: Ten things that make Cormac McCarthy special: Novelist, recluse... guest on Oprah. Welcome to Cormac McCarthy country (Christopher Goodwin, 1/20/2008, Times of London)
    -PROFILE: A conversation between author Cormac McCarthy and the Coen Brothers, about the new movie No Country for Old Men (TIME, 10/18/07)
    -PROFILE: Writer Cormac McCarthy confides in Oprah Winfrey (Michael Conlon, 6/05/07, Reuters)
    -PROFILE: When Oprah Met Cormac: He's no Salinger. (Troy Patterson, June 6, 2007, Slate)
    -PROFILE: Way out, west: The novelist Cormac McCarthy is the best-kept secret of American letters, but his new book could change all that (GORDON BURN, 4/04/93, Independent)
    -PROFILE: Cormac McCarthy (BLAKE MORRISON, 14 August 1994, Independent)
    -PROFILE: Cormac McCarthy: American literature’s great outsider: Few writers have captured the grandeur and cruelty of the American frontier more vividly than Cormac McCarthy. As the film of his novel 'No Country for Old Men' sweeps the Oscars (Boyd Tonkin, 26 February 2008, Independent)
    -ARTICLE: 'The Road' as Outreach? (Lillian Kwon, 11/13/09, Christian Post)
    -ESSAY: Faith, Fear & Cormac McCarthy (Christopher Badeaux, January 7, 2009, The City)
    -ESSAY: The Hugo award winner that spawned a Pulitzer prize winner: Walter M Miller Jr's A Canticle for Leibowitz is a direct ancestor of Cormac McCarthy's The Road (Sam Jordison, 10/28/08, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: Cormac McCarthy’s Paradox of Choice: One Writer, Ten Novels, and a Career-Long Obsession (Scott Esposito , Quarterly Conversation)
    -ESSAY: The New Nuke Porn: Our nuclear fantasies have gotten more hard-core. (Ron Rosenbaum, May 8, 2009, Slate)
    -ESSAY: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy: John Crace saddles his horse and heads into the desert to hunt down Cormac McCarthy's 1985 XXX-rated western, Blood Meridian (John Crace, 9/24/09, guardian.co.uk)
    -ARCHIVE: The First Reviews of Every Cormac McCarthy Novel: FROM THE ORCHARD KEEPER TO THE ROAD (Bookmarks)
    -ARCHIVES: cormac mccarthy (London Review of Books)
    -ARCHIVES: Cormac McCarthy (The Guardian)
    -ARCHIVES: cormac mccarthy (The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (James Wood, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Walter Kirn, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Keith Phipps, AV Club)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Annie Proulx, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Julie Hale, BookPage)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Alan Cheuse, NPR)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Clive Sinclair, The Independent)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Dean Polling, Valdosta Times)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Eric iles Williamson, LA Times)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (James Tipton, Mexconnect)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (William Deresiewicz, The Nation)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Richard A. Blake, America)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Bun Rutter, N+1)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (William J. Cobb, Houston Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Ira Boudway, Salon)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Sean Michaels, The Skinny)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Where Pen Meets Paper)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Cult of the New)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Beaverton City Library, OregonLive)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Diana Mican, Pajiba)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Andrew Bannon, The Roundup)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men (Medium)
    -ARCHIVES: cormac mccarthy (Daily Telegraph)
    -ARCHIVES: cormac mccarthy (Independent)
    -ARCHIVES: "cormac mccarthy (Slate)
    -ARCHIVES: Cormac McCarthy (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVE: for The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Metacritic)
    -REVIEW: of The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Phil Christman, Books & Culture)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Janet Maslin, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (William Kennedy, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Ron Charles, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Chris Cleave, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Todd Shy, Christian Century)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Michael Moorhead, Christian Ethics Today)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Joseph Kugelmass, The Valve)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Ten O'Clock Scholar)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Image)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Jennifer Egan, Slate)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Slate Audio Book Club)
    -REVIEW: of The Road ()
    -REVIEW: of The Road (John Holt, California Literary Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Michael Chabon, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Alan Cheuse, NPR)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Clive Sinclair, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Ed Caesar, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Adam Mars-Jones, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Mark Holcomb, Village Voice)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Alan Warner, Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (George Monbiot, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Victoria Hoyle and Paul Kincaid, Strange Horizons)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Fl;orence Williams, Outside)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Benjamin Whitmer, Modern Word)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Dierdre Donahue, USA TODAY)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Chris Barsanti, PopMatters)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (David Hellman, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Gail Caldwell, Boston Globe)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Niall Griffiths, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Charles McGrath, The Scotsman)
    -REVIEW: of The Road ()
    -REVIEW: of The Road (Gordon Hauptfleisch, Blog Critics)
    -REVIEW: of No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (James Wood, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of No Country (John Freeman, The Scotsman)
    -REVIEW: of
   
-REVIEW: of
   
-REVIEW: of The Crossing (Anthony Quinn, Independent)

FILM:


    -FILMOGRAPHY: Cormac McCarthy (IMDB)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: No Country for Old Men (IMDB)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Ethan Coen (IMDB)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Joel Cohen (IMDB)
    -FILM REVIEW ARCHIVE: Ethan Coen (Metacritic)
    -PROFILE: Coen Heads (David Edelstein, 9/21/07, New York)
    -VIDEO: A discussion about the film No Country for Old Men with Josh Brolin, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen and Javier Bardem (Charlie Rose, November 16, 2007)
    -ESSAY: Rescripting the Western in 'No Country for Old Men': How the Coen Brothers' ostensibly faithful award winning adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men diverges from its creator's rather questionable politics. (Sergio Rizzo, 13 Jan 2011, PopMatters)
    -ESSAY: Why Anton Chigurh is still an iconic movie villain, 10 years later: On the anniversary of 'No Country for Old Men,' we look back at Javier Bardem's terrifying character (Christian Holub, November 10, 2017, EW)
    -ESSAY: The ending of No Country for Old Men explained (MATTHEW JACKSON, MARCH 23, 2020, Looper)
    -ESSAY: No Country For Old Men Ending Explained: No Country For Old Men is considered a classic by many but the ending was divisive. We explore the final scene and what it really means. (PADRAIG COTTER, MAR 06, 2019, screen Rant)
    -INTERVIEW: James Franco on Cormac McCarthy, nasty reviews, and tackling necrophilia,/a> (Drew Fortune, 8/05/14, AV Club)
   
-PODCAST: No Country for Old Men (Bill Simmons, bill Hader and Chris Ryan, Jul 3, 2019, The Ringer)
    -FILM REVIEW ARCHIVE: No Country for Old Men (Metacritic)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Joe Morgenstern, WSJ))
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Peter Rainer, CS Monitor)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (David Edelstein, New York)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Roger Ebert)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (AO Scott, NY Times)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Lou Lumenick, NY Post)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Mick LaSalle, SF Gate)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Ty Burr, Boston Globe)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (James Berardinelli, Reel Views)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Anthony Lane, The new Yorker)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Lisa Schwarzbaum, EW)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Christopher Orr, The Atlantic)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Rex Reed, NY Observer)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Jason Cowley, The Guardian)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Adam Sternburgh, Vulture)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Dana Stevens, Slate))
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Michael Smith, Tulsa World)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Michael Wood, London Review of Books)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Richard Schickel, TIME))
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Jamie S. Rich, Criterion Collections)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Todd McCarthy, Variety)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Paul Arendt, BBC)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (MARJORIE BAUMGARTEN, Austin Chronicle)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Tom Charity, CNN)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Jamie Russell, Radio Times)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Josh Tate, LAist)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Stephen Hunter, Washington Post)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Alan Noble, Christ & Pop Culture)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Emanuele Saccarelli, World Socialist Website)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Andrew Sarris, NY Observer)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (jeffrey Overstreet, Christianity Today)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Leo Braudy, Film Quarterly)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Alan A. Stone, Boston Review)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (rahul Hamid, senses of Cinema)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist)
    -FILM REVIEW: No Country for Old Men (Andreas Babiolakis, Films Fatale)
    -FILM REVIEW: Child of God (Sam weisberg, Village Voice)
    -FILM REVIEW: Child of God (Film Threat)

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