Ease On Down The Road

Ease On Down The Road

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road had been on my to-read list for many years. I’d never read any of his works, despite his semi-ubiquity, and moreso than The Border, No Country For Old Men, or his other prominent works, somehow I’d always felt that The Road was the one for me. So, what took me so long? Eh, you know. Stuff.

One contributing factor, though, was that every time I was in a bookstore with someone and I saw The Road, then announced my intention to read it, the response was always some variation of “woah, dude, that’s some dark shit.” Not that the warning itself was particularly off-putting. I think these people more or less knew that they’re talking to a guy who’s read Crime & Punishment three times. But in the moment it would temper my perceived need. Still plenty of unread books on the shelf and blah blah blah.

But I was blissfully alone in Phoenix Books in Noe Valley early this year when the book presented itself once more. I nabbed it. Plunked myself on our front porch one day last week and read the thing.

Is it grim? Sure. Post-apocalyptic wastelands are no Six Flags. But The Road is a love story, and a beautiful one at that. The man cares for his boy, looks out for his future best interest, lies to him then sees that the boy need the truth and comes clean. The tables gradually turn. The boy’s growth becomes apparent, their roles subtly invert. Until, finally, the inevitable end. I’d call it a happy ending. But, given mankind’s nearly total annihilation, happiness is a very relative term. We’re resilient creatures. And often we’ll take what we can get because that’s the only thing that will keep us going.

Paula Kelley: The Road