I picked up The Road several years ago but did not fully start it until about a week ago. When I first read it, I do not think I was prepared for what lay in its pages. It is not an entirely threatening volume, reaching its finale at a point slightly below 300 pages. Upon finishing this book, however, I understand that I am at a time in my life when this book could mean a lot to me. And it has.
Halfway through the novel, I stood at the back window, watching the rain fall down, the sky grey just as it is in the book, and a shiver passed through me at the realization that the real world could be this dark forever. Perhaps it will, one day. Books appears along the journey taken by father and son in the novel, sodden and destroyed, unlike that which I held in my hand. Homes are destroyed, towns enveloped in shadow and ash, and yet this leftover family ventures on toward the unknown.
To be honest, I felt that the unknown was almost a character. In the midst of failure, impending violence, and seemingly inescapable doom, The Road is lit by the intensity of the will to survive. The barren wasteland, tempestuous weather patterns, blankets, and a shopping cart also take certain precedence in character more so than the living creatures at work in the novel, save The Man and The Boy. Ambiguity is the charm of this book. Without names of human beings and locations, the reader feels, at times, at one with the loss experienced by the main characters.
I think of the survival skills presented in the novel: the constant scavenging of wasted landscapes, searching for sustenance in any form. In the face of the darkening world, The Man and The Boy fight the influence of madness, which in physical form, in their world at least, is the act of cannibalism. A system is developed and enacted by the desperate and desolate. It is perhaps the most harrowing part of the book, or any book, truly.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly primarily because it offers a glimpse into a possible not-so-distant future, and delves as deep as possible into the heart of pure survival. At the front of the novel, on the copyright page, the subject categories include, ‘Fathers and sons,’ ‘Voyages and travel,’ and ‘Regression (Civilization).’
While the world has been destroyed, a certain fire keeps The Man and The Boy on their feet, on their toes, and in each other’s hearts. When betrayal comes from every direction, their bond is true until the final page.
I would recommend this book to nearly everyone, especially those I know to be interested in society as a whole, who look at the issues we face on a daily basis and dream of better times. This novel is very dark in context and fictional aesthetic, but the emphasis on survival, for the continuation and sustaining of life, allows for introspection and understanding of the world of yesterday, today, and seemingly endless tomorrows.
(Above art designed by Max Hancock)