So, Oprah’s book club has selected Cormac McCarthy’s new book The Road as it’s new book. Quite a departure, considering it’s a tale of a post apocolytic world in which cannibals roam the streets. Nice stuff for the weepy baby boomer set that makes up her audience.
My favorite are the reading questions so that middle aged women can discuss the horror of the book.
Here is how I imagine the conversation going…
Discussion Moderator: Cormac McCarthy has an unmistakable prose style. What do you see as the most distinctive features of that style? How is the writing in The Road in some ways more like poetry than narrative prose?
Karen: It’s, well kind of grunty. It’s so different than the writers in Redbook.
Leanne: Yes I agree, but it’s not like poetry. Nothing rhymes. There are no nice images of leaves of grass or flowers.
Donna: I like how it’s a family story with a man and his son.
Low roar of nodding and approving. Ok, next question…
Moderator: Why do you think McCarthy has chosen not to give his characters names? How do the generic labels of “the man” and “the boy” affect the way in which readers relate to them?
Donna: Maybe if he gave their names they wouldn’t be quite so universal. Or maybe he thought that they wouldn’t be calling each other Barry and Vick. I don’t know.
Karen: This is just like men to objectify people and not name them. They have more of an identify.
Leanne: My brain hurts, I didn’t notice, I just didn’t want them to be eaten.
Moderator: How is McCarthy able to make the post-apocalyptic world of The Road seem so real and utterly terrifying? Which descriptive passages are especially vivid and visceral in their depiction of this blasted landscape? What do you find to be the most horrifying features of this world and the survivors who inhabit it?
Donna: I didn’t like all the gray and no food. What would we do without Applebees?
Leanne: I think the lack of bathing would be unpleasant!
Karen: It’s like an old black and white TV show, that’s creepy! (low roar of agreement again).
Moderator: McCarthy doesn’t make explicit what kind of catastrophe has ruined the earth and destroyed human civilization, but what might be suggested by the many descriptions of a scorched landscape covered in ash? What is implied by the father’s statement that, “On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world,” [p. 32]?
Karen: Wow, that’s deep. I don’t have any clue.
Donna: Was it terrorists, I bet it was terrorists.
Leanne: I wonder if Al Gore had something to do with his global warming and all. That sounds dangerous, why does he support it so?
Karen: Maybe it was aliens? But where did they go? It reminds me of Tom Cruise in war of the worlds, do you think he stole it from that movie? Maybe he did, there was ash in that movie.
Donna: How did they bury those monsters in the ground?
Karen: I think it was aliens who conspired with global warming to … Oh Desperate Housewives is on, I’ve had enough of this.