I feel I need to do this for my own benefit. Last Saturday evening, I finished Different Seasons, a wonderful novella collection from Stephen King, and my second attempt at his stuff. I’ve been inspired to watch the movies associated with the novellas, and have wondered why the fantastically wonderful story of The Breathing Method hasn’t been made into something as I write this.
Sunday morning, I started The Crying of Lot 49 by one of my favorite authors, Thomas Pynchon. Before this year, I’d read him the most having read Gravity’s Rainbow, Mason & Dixon and V., in the years prior, and I enjoyed the sheer comedy of the entire story. At 127 pages of large print, I was finished in about two hours, and I wanted more.
I almost immediately jumped into The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Andrew recommended Suttree, but it’d been checked out of my local library, and my next choice (Empire Falls by Richard Russo) was out of stock at my local Half Price Books. So, for five ninety-eight, I walked out with this book I knew nothing about, outside a trailer for a movie based on the book that I barely paid half-attention to. I read nine pages and put the book down, unsure if I even wanted to bother with the rest of the book.
McCarthy’s sentence structure bothered me to no end, almost immediately. That we spend years in school learning how to correctly write a sentence, only to have authors make what seemed to be a mockery of it bothers me in some cases. For instance: I abuse commas like it’s my job. Since most of the writing I’ve done in the past was for radio/TV copy, my commas are more breath marks, rather than simply places where a comma should be. Shame on me, I know. McCarthy, however, doesn’t use a single comma as far as I remember.
Tuesday evening, I picked it up again, and I couldn’t put it down. Once the story started, I didn’t want to put the book down. I didn’t see two faceless people walking through some wasteland, I saw me and my son, Cameron, side by side, me having to give up anything and everything for him that I could, just to ensure he had the tools to survive. I honestly felt fear a few times through the book, and anger at the thief toward the end of the story as well.
The language structure that first took me out of the book sucked me in completely and totally. It read frantically, and though it was from the standpoint of a somewhat omniscient narrator, it seemed frantic and scattered, as though it was written in a journal from an observer who missed bits and pieces, making for an also unreliable narrator as well.
The book is exactly what a story of it’s nature should be: In a post-apocalyptic setting, there should not be much to describe; that should totally be relied on by the mind of the reader to fill in, while giving start details to match the stark landscapes of the story. It’s executed absolutely perfectly in this story, and added to my inability to put the book down.
And then comes the end of the story which honestly brought a few tears to my eyes, I will fully admit. I am not much of an emotional guy, and though I still saw it coming a mile away, I still shed a tear or two at the end.
The relationship between the father and son could very well be me and my son. The nameless boy (in fact, only one character is really named throughout the story, and he’s somewhat inconsequential to the story as a whole) could very well be somewhat autistic, due to being born after whatever happened to destroy the world happened. I identified with him immediately, and pulled for him throughout the story.
All in all, I’ve had to take two days to rectify my feelings for the story and the book, and I’ve come up with this: I loved the book, the style and the raw emotion it made me feel. I didn’t like that it was so short, because there was so much potential for more. The short flashbacks needed more to give more feeling for the father, though what was mattered nothing since they didn’t know if there even would be a tomorrow.
I highly recommend picking it up. If you’re a fast reader, you’ll finish it in a day or two.