Monday, March 1, 2010

Can you survive the Road?

In was a unique week for Our Year in Books.  Our roads converged, so to speak, and we ended up reading the same book.  Drew read it first and enjoyed it so much he encouraged me to get my hands on it.   The book in question:  The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  As we read through the book separately, I thought it would be a good idea to do a joint post.  The following is the result. 

I should say this is inspired by Inner/Outer Circle from my days in AP English - a practice I enjoyed and loathed with equal passion at the time.  Let's get going:

L:  This reading was inspired, in part, by our love of the movie No Country for Old Men.  Although they are different stories and different mediums, how do you think the style of McCarthy is similar in both works?

D - Considering that I'm basing this off the movie version of NCOM and the book The Road it might be a little off, but we'll see once we get to reading NCOM. I thought that the endings were incredibly similar. They aren't what you would expect from a movie or a book. First read/view, it's almost a let down! You are expecting something different. But after you go back and review it again you begin to see that there's a bigger picture involved. Dialogue felt similar to me - sparse, but enough. It really lent itself well to both novels. Between those two, it felt Cormac.

L:  The book deals with fear in different ways - the boy and the man, but also the reader.  Did you feel a sense of dread while reading?  And how do you think the way the characters dealt with fear pushed the plot along?

D - I don't think I felt a complete sense of dread as a reader. It was definitely creepy at points, and you did feel for the characters. I didn't get too emotional with this book; or as much as I was expecting to considering that it appears to be an emotional journey. The movie might do that more... we'll see. As the book progressed, I thought we saw more courage from the Boy and perhaps more fear from the Man. There was a sense of hope in hopelessness. It was fitting for their plight.

L:  That was another theme in the book - hope.  What do you think "carrying the fire" means?

D - Who knows if I'm right or not! This comes from my thoughts on the last question - I believe it meant that they carried humanities hope. If they thought they didn't need to go on, it was lost. If they resorted to what the rest of humanity had become(or what they saw of humanity) then it was lost. The fire was what carried them that far. Faith in the good guys.

L: To that point, was their hope misplaced?

D - No. I didn't feel that the Man ever lost faith in the Boy. There were points where he might have been helpless in the desolation, but he was always looked after by something greater(perhaps he felt it was coincidence). The Boy never lost faith in the Man although I've read a couple reviews saying that he ended up being alienated by some of the choices the Man made. I never saw that. He always ended up trusting the Man's decision. The Boy also had hope even at the conclusion. It was probably the most redeeming portion of the book. The fire was carried.

L:  Ok, so what about the mention of God in the book?  At one point the man says that the boy is God.  Do you think Cormac's created world has a god?  If so, what kind of god is he/she?

D - I don't know if Cormac truly had a God/god by the end of the book. The Man put all his desires into his kid. He lived for the Boy so it was easy to see why he saw the boy as all there was. In the end, I think Cormac felt that the good side of humanity was a god of sorts. I'm biased though. If you capitalize God there is only one conclusion... I don't think his was the same.

L:  Last one: There is one (ONE) paragraph in the book that is written in the first person (narrator: the man).  Why?

D - I have no clue! I didn't even notice it when I was reading. It was a flashback so maybe he was trying to illustrate the story from someone elses perspective. My guess is that he forgot what he was writing for a paragraph and then forgot that he had been writing in first person when he transitioned back to third. I'm guessing you were the only person that noticed.

Finally, the ratings:
Leah: 5.5
Drew: ^ what the heck? 8.2! But I *heart* all things apocalyptic.