September 26th marks the 15th anniversary of Cormac McCarthy’s acclaimed, post-apocalyptic novel, The Road. In celebration, let’s take a look at its conception and impact.
The Road is a journey through the desolate corners of a wasteland America, seen through the eyes of a father torn-up with grief, but forced to carry on for his son as they move to escape the oncoming winter. Following the two unnamed characters (The Man and The Boy), The Road uses its third-person omniscient perspective to give us both concrete images of the landscape as well as intensely emotional musings.
Despite the variations in themes that readers have drawn, for McCarthy, The Road presents itself as a “simple, straightforward” message of survival. Subjectivity is what makes reading so impactful. The power a book can have to shape our thoughts or even change our lives is truly unparalleled. Although McCarthy sees his work as simple, he remains open to hearing the different messages that others glean from it. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey shortly after the book was published, he discussed his expectations.
“You would like for the people who appreciate the book to read it,” he said. “But as far as many, many people reading it, so what?”
The Birth Of The Road
Inspiration for The Road came to McCarthy while on a trip to El Paso with his son. McCarthy sat inside his hotel room and imagined what the city would look like in the future. That initial spark got him writing, and then interactions with his son kept him going, never really knowing where the story would take him. This devil-may-care momentum worked well for him. Rife with fleeting imagery and moments of deep disturbance that pass as quickly as it takes to turn the page, McCarthy crafts a thoroughly haunting tale.
With ten novels under his belt, The Road stands out as one of McCarthy’s more impactful works. In 2006, it was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction and then the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In its time out in the world, it has been adapted into a film of the same name, released in 2009, starring Viggo Mortensen (The Man), Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Boy), and Charlize Theron (Woman).
Quotes From The Road
In order to commemorate The Road‘s 15th anniversary, here are some quotes from the novel.
“Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each other’s world entire.”
“If trouble comes when you least expect it then maybe the thing to do is to always expect it.”
“Keep a little fire burning; however small, however hidden.”
“On this road, there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world.”
Enjoyed reading The Road? Here are three possible explanations for the Apocalypse that the internet has settled on.