So this book won the Pulitzer (that’s not why I hated it, I’m just letting you know). As I said last week in my post about why I loved The Road, I learned that books don’t have to have a plot that makes sense in order to win the Pulitzer. Good to know.
But why should you care about my opinion? I don’t have a Pulitzer. Fair point. If you read The Road and love love loved it and think Cormac McCarthy is the best thing to happen to literature since Hemingway had his first sip of hard liquor, you should maybe check out my sister post about how much I loved The Road or maybe a post with my cute cat or my silly vacation photos instead. Because if you keep reading, you might be disappointed; I’ve probably missed the vast and important point that the book was trying to convey and am harping on “things that don’t matter”.
But they do matter… to me.
I have never seen the word gray used so. many. times. Holy crap, Cormac. What color was the sky, again? Was it gray? We get it. Not green, not blue. Gray. I don’t even care if it was a deliberate literary device to make the reader understand just how gray it was, it was annoying.
My next issue was the dialogue. Specifically, Cormac used dialogue without quotations marks or narrative description. I would say that 90% of the time, it was clear who was speaking, which is a testament to how good of a writer he is – that’s hard to do. But the other 10% of the time?
Sometimes one character said something that didn’t sound quite right and I started to wonder if I screwed up who was on which line, especially when I realized that sometimes there were line breaks but the conversation didn’t change sides. I didn’t even think this was allowed – writing conventions and whatnot, but again, it’s art. DO NOT QUESTION THE ART – if it doesn’t make sense it’s your fault – you lack vision, go back to watching Glee and Toddlers and Tiaras and leave the literature to people who desperately want to use words like symbolic and allegory regardless as to whether either one are applicable.
What the hell was up with the ending? The father and son have been on this long adventure and have met no one except roving bands of cannibals who want to roast them and have them for supper. Basically? Post-apocalyptic life blows – this came through loud and clear. This poor kid has grown up with the knowledge that strangers want to eat him. How’s that for a tough life lesson?
However, the thing about this kid is that he believes that all people are fundamentally good people did not learn the lesson.
At the end of the book, his dad dies. Sad times. Shortly after that, the kid meets a stranger who wants the boy to come with him. The kid shoots the stranger just like his Dad told him agrees and goes with him.
WHAT?! In your short time on this planet, you’ve met no one except people that want to eat you, and then a shady stranger approaches you the first time you’re on your own, and you’re like, “Sure, Mister! Got any candy in that van?” and then you hand him your gun. You. Are. An. Idiot. Seriously. That is Bella-from-Twilight levels of stupid.
However, then the book got even more confusing for me, because although it was clear at this point that the man wanted to eat the child for supper and was lying to him to get him to come along quietly – especially when he says he has a wife and a son “about your age”. It seemed clear that this kid was toast, and yet the cover clearly says “A tale of survival” – it would be a pretty crappy tale of survival if both of the main characters died, but all signs pointed to the stranger being a dirty dirty cannibal.
Except he wasn’t. It would seem that even the author didn’t realize that this strange man was lying to the kid in order to cook him and eat him for dinner, because within a few pages, the man’s wife entered the picture and everyone in the book acts as though these people are actually telling the truth.
2). So they are cannibals, BUT the twist is that boy knew that they were going to eat him and he went with them anyway. He chose suicide by cannibal rather than live without his dad. There was a running theme in the book surrounding the father and son’s codependency issues – both of them were all, “life isn’t worth living if you’re not alive too”. I can see this on the Dad’s part, but the Dad should have done a better job preparing the kid for life after he died, especially since it was pretty clear that he knew he was going to die soon – coughing up blood is not generally considered to be a sign of awesome health. Considering previous conversations about what they would do if the other died, and the fact that it was already established in the story that the kid wasn’t going to shoot himself if he got caught, suicide by cannibal is a fairly plausible ending.
Also, I hate seeing people that are painfully stupid in novels, so we’ll pretend like the kid isn’t a total bone head – his Dad just did a crappy job of raising him. If that’s not true to life, I don’t know what is.
To be clear, I mean life in general not my life, because my Dad is awesome and would have taught the kid something useful – like how to not get eaten by cannibals two days after he dies.