books to movies: ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy

Whenever there’s a movie on the horizon that’s based on a book I’ve never read, I wrestle with the conundrum: Do I read that book before I see the movie, or do I hold off and approach the movie with a completely fresh eye? There’s never a single right answer to that question, but when it came to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon U.K.], a simple coincidence convinced me to read. Because I’m a writer, I read a lot of sites about writing and words and books, and at one of these sites, I read something about what constitutes suspense and surprise and a good ending for a story, and — completely unrelated to the upcoming movie — The Road was mentioned. And it intrigued me so much that I figured: Okay, yes, I will read this book now.
I want to say I’m glad I did read it, but glad isn’t quite the word for the harrowing experience of McCarthy’s tale. I hadn’t read anything by McCarthy before, and I found that the starkness of his prose was as haunting as the story itself, and I was simultaneously horrified by his depiction of survival in a postapocalyptic world and totally unable to stop reading. There are ideas about a literally dead world — all the animals are gone; there is no plant life and no sun; the few people left have mostly been forced to resort to cannibalism — that I’ve encountered in other apocalyptic fiction, but never with such power behind them. McCarthy paints images that are so seared into my head just from reading about them that I dread how director John Hillcoat will handle them up on the screen… and since Hillcoat also made the brutal The Proposition, I expect his film to be unbearably compelling.

The Road opens in the U.S. on November 25, and in the U.K. on January 8, 2010.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap