About Robert Adlam
- Reader profile
Name: Robert Adlam
City: Farnham Surrey
[ book tip by Robert Adlam ] Let’s cut to the chase: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is a remarkable and brilliant achievement. I would choose this work as the last text on any course devoted to educating men.
Set amidst the ash-laden wreckage of a burnt-out America, McCarthy explores a primal psychology of the human male. Edging, bit by bit, along the road, a father and his son struggle to stay alive in a post-cataclysmic world stripped of its resources. McCarthy stays close to the grain of primary experience, moving us through the data of their senses, tracking along their memories, dwelling in their dreams and unearthing the big enduring truths that make life worth living and death worth welcoming. His prose is deceptively simple: alongside seemingly spare description he details the inventive genius of our cultural heritage. Echoing Jacob Bronowski’s celebration of human artefacts in the Ascent of Man, McCarthy confronts us with the things it has become simply too easy to overlook: canned food, the cleat on a boat, a ratchet, tools and toolboxes, oil in plastic bottles, fashioning a bullet, telegraph wires, a spatula, a cistern.
This may be the most powerful and damning message in the book: How is it that surrounded by a wealth of technological and social achievements we have produced bored people, casual people, ungrateful people, helpless people?
In the short clipped dialogues between father and son, moments of terrible profundity emerge. As they cope with the dramatic episodes on the road, a philosophy for life begins to take shape. Together, father and son 'keep the fire alive'; together they try to remain 'good guys'. And, the good guys keep hoping and keep going on. That’s what they do. To the end.
I think this is a terrific book and I really would love to discuss it face-to-face with anyone else who has read it. It engaged me on every front and left me feeling both devastated and energised. If Plato’s Republic were to be re-fashioned in terms of a shadow archetype then this might be it.
[ Favourite quote ] 'This is what the good guys do. They keep trying. They don't give up.'
[ book info ] McCarthy, Cormac: The Road.
(Book language: English)
New York, 2006