Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Road. Cormac McCarthy. A Journal on the Somewhat Semi-Apocalypse That was. Or You Can Call It a Semi-Book Review

It's been more than half a month now, and I got over the extreme emotions from The Road. But I can still remember having the hardest time finishing the last few remaining pages of the novel not because of laziness but the difficulty of accepting the circumstances in the story beyond my expectations. The ending left me heartbroken for quite some time. But I realized that I just need to remember the miracle of beauty rising from ashes; i.e. hope from despair, love from hatred, life from death. And thus, the essence of the book.

And here is an unfinished review I tried composing but never got the chance completing but worthwhile publishing:

It's been a little over a week ago now that I finished reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road. And quite frankly, I couldn't move on to my other dozens of readings and they pile up waiting. Not until I write something about the extraordinary experience The Road was. And warn you, whoever had the misfortune of coming across this page, that this is a journal, so a lot from the book might be spilled.

The first time I heard of The Road was about a year ago while trying to fish for the runners for the Oscars after mid-year. Back then, predictions were strongly on Body of Lies, Revolutionary Road, The Reader, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Soloist, Doubt, Valkyrie, Defiant, The Road and Australia. Slumdog Millionaire was not even on the radar yet and I was so rooting for Australia. Anyway, to cut the story short, I didn't care about The Road. All I knew was Viggo Mortensen was in it. And just so you know, the film release is not going to be until this November, just found out recently.

So over a year after, it was an entirely different story. What started out as a "maturity" of passion for books became obsession. You see, it was supposed to be Neil Gaiman first and then "the rest". But he used first person in most of his narrations (which I hated). So came Cormac McCarthy's The Road, mass trade paperback, with Viggo Mortensen on the cover. I even had to get it using gift certificates.

Credentials of a certain piece attracts my attention. So when I came across one Oprah episode that somehow gave me an idea that The Road is part of the Oprah's Book Club, I became interested. And then found out that only a few books get into that selection. And then found out that it's won several top prizes for literature, Pulitzer Prize 2007 for Fiction among others. And then it climbed up on my list of readings just behind Neil Gaimans.

The novel was constructed so simply. There was not even an introduction, preface or what have you, that a standard book should have. I even hated the incomplete sentences being the entire sentence already because that would alarm me that a book is too dramatic. Nevertheless, I went on with the book. It began with man waking up in darkness in the woods, reaching out for his son and in that instance, fear and nothingness was established. And during daytime, the world is gray covered with ashes which I imagined falling from the sky as normal as the atmosphere is suspended to cover to a planet. There were no other creatures apart from them, or otherwise they would not let their presence be known. This somewhat prompted me to think, "I Am Legend." What happened? Has everyone caught virus and turned into zombies and monsters? Has the earth collapsed? For some reason, these questions were answered in the slightest clues throughout the entire story. But I do know that apocalypse had happened. So everywhere they turned is danger and they were "each the other's world entire".

After reading the book and after crying so hard that day, it was ironically manifesting outside that Ondoy (or Parma) was already devastating the entire country. So it reminded me that the book can have an environmental angle. That at some point in Homo Sapien history, there will be extinction. And I am optimist that we can still somewhat decide whether it would be in a thousand years or sooner. But it was not obviously the main point of the story. And it was definitely not what I sobbed for.

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