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Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => Book Talk => Topic started by: Michael Sussman on January 03, 2012, 07:38 AM

Title: Chabon's brilliant take on Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD
Post by: Michael Sussman on January 03, 2012, 07:38 AM
I loved Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, but didn’t really understand why I found it so profoundly moving until I came across Michael Chabon’s take on the novel:

The Road is not a record of fatherly fidelity; it is a testament to the abyss of a parent’s greatest fears. The fear of leaving your child alone, of dying before your child has reached adulthood and learned to work the mechanisms and face the dangers of the world, or found a new partner to face them with. The fear of one day being obliged for your child's own good, for his peace and comfort, to do violence to him or even end his life. And, above, all, the fear of knowing --as every parent fears--that you have left your children a world more damaged, more poisoned, more base and violent and cheerless and toxic, more doomed, than the one you inherited. It is in the audacity and single-mindedness with which The Road extends the metaphor of a father’s guilt and heartbreak over abandoning his son to shift for himself in a ruined, friendless world that The Road finds its great power to move and horrify the reader.”

Michael Chabon
Maps and Legends
Title: Re: Chabon's brilliant take on Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD
Post by: Franzilla on January 03, 2012, 07:50 AM
You know, I can't bring myself to read it. I think it will emotionally scar me! I am way too adept at creating horrific future scenarios in my imagination as it is and I sense that this book might give my brain more fodder for fearful thought!

I wish I were the kind of person who could read great scary books like this but I think it might just do my head in.
Title: Re: Chabon's brilliant take on Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD
Post by: Mike Jung on January 03, 2012, 08:08 AM
I loved THE ROAD - it's terribly moving, as well as being a cracking good story - and MAPS AND LEGENDS is one of my go-to resources for inspiration. I'm a huge fan of Michael Chabon's work for a whole stack of reasons, and one of the biggest is his total commitment to treating so-called genre fiction with the same respect, scholarly attention, and creative diliegence as so-called literary fiction.
Title: Re: Chabon's brilliant take on Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD
Post by: teri on January 03, 2012, 08:55 AM
I LOVE The Road, have read it carefully three times so far.  I think it's brilliant and MC's analysis is spot on, though there are other possible analyses.
Title: Re: Chabon's brilliant take on Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD
Post by: Whizbee on January 03, 2012, 09:44 AM
That's a great assessment and makes me wonder how much McCarthy's real-life relationship with his son influenced his work. He's rather old to have a young son, so I imagine a lot of these fears come into play for him.

THE ROAD is one of the best novels I've ever read, both for the beautiful language and for the fascinating characters. And I have to admit that it really does drive home the fear that I'm leaving my own son a world that is worse off than it was when I entered the world. The last paragraph of the book will haunt me forever.
Title: Re: Chabon's brilliant take on Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD
Post by: KenH on January 05, 2012, 11:00 AM
I, too, loved THE ROAD and have a great deal of respect and admiration for Chabon, but I have to disagree a bit with his conclusion. While I agree that the horror experienced by the reader stems from just what Chabon states, insofar as it pertains to a parent's fears for his/her child, the story IS a record of that parental fidelity, plain and simple. Everything else Chabon states, while true, isn't inherent in THE ROAD, but in our own reaction to the context in which McCarthy chose to present and challenge that fidelity. Maybe I'm splitting hairs, but I believe it's a question of authorial intent versus audience interpretation.
Title: Re: Chabon's brilliant take on Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD
Post by: Michael Sussman on January 05, 2012, 11:23 AM
I agree. One of the most moving elements of the novel for me was how throughout the entire nightmare of their journey, the father was always thinking first of his son's survival and of protecting the boy from harm. As the father of a young son, I identified very strongly with the man's plight.
Title: Re: Chabon's brilliant take on Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD
Post by: C.K. on January 05, 2012, 11:38 AM
Quote
You know, I can't bring myself to read it. I think it will emotionally scar me!

You're absolutely right to be nervous, as far as I'm concerned. The Road is the darkest thing I've ever read and so, while I greatly admired it and did recommend it to several people, I always warned them that the book is extremely depressing and not something everyone will want to experience. I still haven't been able to bring myself to watch the movie version but I'm going to try to do that soon. 
Title: Re: Chabon's brilliant take on Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD
Post by: Tinamarie on January 05, 2012, 12:23 PM
You're absolutely right to be nervous, as far as I'm concerned. The Road is the darkest thing I've ever read and so, while I greatly admired it and did recommend it to several people, I always warned them that the book is extremely depressing and not something everyone will want to experience. I still haven't been able to bring myself to watch the movie version but I'm going to try to do that soon. 

I loved the book (though at a couple of points I had to put it down and take some deep breaths before continuing). But when I learned they were making a film of it I knew there was NO WAY IN HECK that I could ever watch it.  Just too devastating.

In fact, I'm not sure I know anyone who's seen the movie - so if you do watch it, C.K., I'd be curious to hear your reaction!
Title: Re: Chabon's brilliant take on Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD
Post by: teri on January 05, 2012, 12:43 PM
I saw the movie.  I have to say I think there is no way anyone could do justice to the book, and I didn't think the movie did it well. 
Title: Re: Chabon's brilliant take on Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD
Post by: C.K. on January 05, 2012, 01:00 PM
Tinamarie, I'll post once I've seen it. I'm hoping to work up to it within the next week.

Teri, was it not as powerful as the book or were there other problems? I'm afraid of seeing the horrors that were described in the book but if it doesn't resonate as deeply maybe I have less to fear??
Title: Re: Chabon's brilliant take on Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD
Post by: teri on January 05, 2012, 01:50 PM
C.K.--it didn't resonate.  Also, I thought they made some poor choices in soem of the thigns they decided to have happen (some that didn't happenin the book) and it felt almost cheesy to me in some places (the end!) but as I said--nothing could have captured the book, in my opinion, so I may be the wrong person to ask :)
Title: Re: Chabon's brilliant take on Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD
Post by: C.K. on January 17, 2012, 11:10 AM
Just to say I watched The Road over the weekend and I found it highly depressing, just like I did the book. In the case of the book you at least have the lovely prose to enjoy but in the movie there's nothing positive to cling on to so I don't think I'd recommend it unless you're really curious to see how it compares. I was glad I'd read the book first because I'm not sure I could've gotten to the end of the movie otherwise - I would've been filled with too much dread. As involved as I can feel in a book, it never feels as immediate as a movie to me so I usually find it harder to watch violent and stark material than to read it. The performances were strong and personally I didn't think there was anything particularly wrong with the movie; it was just too bleak for me for the most part. Although, Teri, I do see what you mean about the ending, especially after everything that had gone before. It sort of felt a bit like an ending to a more Hollywood-ish movie.