Monday, September 1, 2008

The Road

I don't know who or how they award the Pulitzer Prize, but I'm convinced it's mostly men who do it. This is the 16th Pulitzer Prize winner I've read since it became the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1948 and most of those I've read, and I'll lump The Road into that bunch I've wondered "why the heck did this win a prize?" There are notable exceptions, Empire Falls by Richard Russo, Independence Day by Richard Ford, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, The Shipping News by Annie Prolux, and best of all The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields. And in that list of books, all but The Stone Diaries is much more a man's book rather than a woman's book.

And so is The Road. I have not read Cormac McCarthy before. In large part I haven't because I don't enjoy reading bleak, cruel portrayals of human nature. The Road is even sparser than that. The only name given in the book is a false one and it's not used for either main character. Ambiguity, thy name is The Road. What happened? How did they get here? Where are they going? You won't find out by reading The Road. It is the most present insistent novel I've ever read, brief remembrances which may or may not be true notwithstanding.

I don't regret reading The Road. It wasn't hard or long or anything. But it certainly didn't leave me feeling better about the state of the world, literary or real. It's just not my kind of book, and I don't feel any need to spend any more time with Mr. McCarthy and his works.

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