The Road not taken.

I don’t think I can finish Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Despite its bestseller status, despite the awards.*

350540-m-1181159587.jpgIt’s too much. Too horrific, depressing, and dark. As they say in MFA workshops (well, in many of mine, anyway) when the story/memoir is too heavy for too long: there’s no relief for the reader.

When I read the blurb on the back cover, I didn’t think it was a book I would normally read. But then I opened it and started reading and the writing was so beautiful and poetic that I bought it. I began reading it in 10-page chunks, because that’s all I could take of the heavy mood, the bleakness, and the constant presence of death that’s in this novel.

Then, last night, I sped through another 100 pages or so — I’m halfway through the book — and all of the sudden it just got to me. I had to put the book down. And I was so upset by it that I had to pick up something else (anything!) to read** before I could possibly go to sleep.

And I thought, I can’t do it. I can’t read any more of this. The writing is still beautiful and poetic (although the lack of apostrophes and quotes was starting to get old) but the mood, the setting, the constant starvation, the death and destruction….the greyness! I can’t take any more.

* Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2007) and the 2006 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction … and it was chosen as an Oprah Book.
** In this case, the most recent issue of the literary magazine “New Letters,” which I get because I submitted work to said magazine’s essay contest once. They just keep sending it. I read a short story by Catherine Browder that read like memoir and an essay about Willa Cather’s letters that may constitute most of what I know about Willa Cather, besides the titles of her books.


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