Friday, November 27, 2009

andrew versus evil foes of mccarthy's the road, part II

please see "andrew versus evil foes of mccarthy's the road, part I" for a full introduction to my defense of the road, including a chat with evil person on facebook #1, wherein i conclusively demonstrate that the road's lack of quotation marks is perhaps a good thing.


abbreviated introduction: when a friend posted a facebook comment that challenged the magnificence of cormac mccarthy's the road--which is being released this week to a theater near you!--i couldn't help but respond. the following defense is adapted from that conversation. where necessary, i have taken the liberty of modifying the arguments of those who would dare question the road into straw-men caricatures of their former selves so that they are more easily vanquished.

person on facebook #2: [holding back a sob as she watches evil person on facebook #1 happily prance out of the room with a copy of the road held tightly to her chest] oh, my. i just can't--

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: [handing person on facebook #2 a tissue] what's wrong?

person on facebook #2: [wiping a tear] it's this book. the prose is beautiful, but it's so gruesome. i can't get the images out of my head. i can't sleep--

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: [with an understanding nod] the road is something of a nightmare. i think you have a valid subjective objection.

[someone in the room snickers at this faux-academic, robotic sounding attempt at empathy]

person on facebook #2: [turns evil]

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: errr...person on facebook #2? are you OK?

evil person on facebook #2: [laughs maniacally] so i get something like a free pass, then? i may universally dismiss the road and all other literature that disturbs? after all, the beauty of the road would be so much greater if it weren't spoiled by the violence and cruelty and b-l-o-o-o-o-d--

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: [backing away ever so slightly] well, given that the road is causing you emotional stress and prohibiting you from sleeping at night, then, yes, you might want to stay away. but i don't think it's a good habit to universally avoid things that disturb, that make us consider the darker side of ourselves. many people read books to get away from reality, to escape. that's perhaps why the sale of romances and sci-fi books is recession proof whereas literary fiction is gasping for a profit. but i don't think this is necessarily healthy. in fact, i think that good art, books like the road, depict violence and horror. they may be profane. they may be explicit. they challenge us, make us think, force us to question ourselves and how we perceive our neighbors, even scare us. and the fact, that mccarthy's images stay with you is simply a testament to his talent as a writer. the road should stay with you...

[the smoke from some psychadelic pipe begins to fill the room, obscuring the walls and features of the room. the floor slips away, and it is as if the self-appointed defender of the road and the evil person on facebook #2 are floating in space, surrounded only by rising, ever-widening rings of remembrance]

evil person on facebook #2: gnarly!

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: for weeks, months, i suppose years, after i first read the road i couldn't stop thinking about where i fit into this shadowy humanity. i'd be in church--

[out of nowhere, a church appears in the distance, floating statically above them, its cross pulsating with bright green light]

--and pastor richard's sermon would trigger some thought of the road. or i'd be scoping out the nasty lunch options at work--

[the cross blinks once more, and then is gone, replaced by filipinos in hairnets and a line of vietnam vets, shifting from foot to foot as they wait for the caregiver's special, a mysterious meat dish, at the VA cafeteria]

--and remember how the man and the boy would celebrate over a rotten apple, a can of soup. this, the way mccarthy's images are seared into your mind, is what i love about the road.