Monday, November 30, 2009

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

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. and see part II for a chat with evil person on facebook #2, wherein i conclusively demonstrate that the horror of the road is not something to avoid on the basis of fear or morality.


abbreviated introduction: when a friend posted a facebook comment that challenged the magnificence of cormac mccarthy's the road--which is now playing in a movie 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.

evil person on facebook #3: [watches as evil person on facebook #2 stares up into a non-existent sky, says a few words, and leaves the room; then, a moment later, continues watching as person on facebook #2 walks into the room, looks up in a peaceful, hippie-kind of way, speaks, and then walks out; and then he turns to andrew, about to speak, when person on facebook #2 again enters the room, looks up, offers a words to the room, and exits] it's monotonous. it's as if the plot and dialogue keeps repeating itself

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: i think she's stuck in some kind of an online time loop. let me see if i can adjust the RSS feed settings--

evil person on facebook #3: no, not her. the road! there's all this ash, and then they can't find food, so the man says to the boy, "OK?" and he replies, "OK." and then there's more ash, and then they still can't find, so again the man says to the boy, "OK?" and he replies, "OK."

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: well, that seems like a gross oversimplification of the plot. they also have all kinds of encounters with ***OMITTED FOR IMPROPER SPOILER USE*** and ***OMITTED FOR IMPROPER SPOILER USE***. they experience emotional highs and lows; they see all kinds of sites. to say that nothing happens in the road seems altogether false. a mountain of more interesting stuff happens to the man and boy then happens to me in any given year. and, what's more, all those empty, forgotten spaces they explore--each and every one holds a mystery. what happened to these people? did they survive? are our brave heroes about to bump into them on the next page?

evil person on facebook #3: OK, but you get my meaning. there's the same feel to the scenes. it seems like he could have just written one chapter and then wrote something that said, "now read this chapter ten more times."

andrew, self-appointed defender of the road: i guess i can't fire any objective responses back at your criticism of the road's pacing. i can only say that the very thing that bothered you is what makes me celebrate mccarthy. the plot of the road (and the border trilogy and perhaps blood meridian, and even the orchard keeper if the first few pages are any indication) is that a few guys walk down a road (or perhaps they ride horses) and violent (or occasionally generous) stuff happens to them, sometimes the same stuff over and over again. it's life. that's what it would be like to haunt a postapocalypse like the one mccarthy has created. and the way the characters speak? that's what it's really like sometimes in my life, so i can only imagine that when things get serious, like in the road, it seems more than likely that all kinds of verbal communication would be stripped away.

[evil person on facebook #2 enters the room and then leaves for good]

and to me, mccarthy makes this interesting and real in a way that i almost don't want anything else to happen. he seems a master of the quiet and the storm. and in the road, there's just so much tension in the environment that to me it didn't matter if nothing or the same thing happened, because mccarthy created a world where i was always thinking of what could happen next.


Brendan said...

Very nice. I'm still looking forward to parts IV and V.

On a slightly related note, my vacation has given me time and energy to catch up on your blog. I must say, I'm impressed with how it's evolved, even though I catch a mis-type every now and then. I guess even editors aren't perfect writers, eh?

Oh, and speaking of blogs, check out my new blog at I thought you'd understand a little shameless self promotion!