Sunday, May 20, 2007

"For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" - The Book of Revelations 6:17

I finished Cormac McCarthy’s The Road while sitting at the reference desk yesterday afternoon – distinctly against rules, to read at the desk, but it was quiet, and I HAD to keep going.

Is it very professional to have to help patrons with my eyes red and still streaming? No. No, it isn’t, but he seemed to cope.

[An aside: He’s one of my new favorite patrons, a nursing prof from Canada here doing some research work with his then-advisor/now-colleague, on nursing methods and phenomenology. His pet topic, the becoming-human theories of Rosemary Parse, are interestingly similar to many deconstructionist literary theories, all of which I find, frankly, just this much hooey but also find fascinating to discuss.

His favorite question: “How IS THAT for you? How is that, the experience of [insert research topic here]?” Now, turns out, I am more scientifically minded than I ever thought possible, as the LAST thing I would ask, say, a terminal cancer patient is, “How IS THAT for you?” I would be much more inclined to explain palliative measures, and talk about the practical matters like pain management, family and support situations, and hospice possibilities. But he is far more interested in the lived-experience. Hooey! Hooey, I say, but some fiery discussions ensue.

Some days, I do love my job.

Besides which, he has the loveliest lilting accent, which he informs me is Acadian. (This fact set me to singing “Farewell to Nova Scotia” for several days.)]

So. On The Road again.
Would I tell you to read this book?
Unequivocally, YES.
Would I tell you I LIKED it?
No. No, saying I liked it would be insane.

It is exquisitely, sparsely written.
It is lovely in the way that winter-stricken tree branches black against the pewter sky are lovely.
Or maybe in the way that the delicate bones of a skeleton are lovely.

It is, perhaps, beautiful in the way that the inevitability of death is beautiful.

I have watched someone die, and I have three children who are my heart, and this book tore me up. I read it with a sense of urgency, and a stone feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I could have read it all in one sitting, but I had to stop often and breathe and put it aside for a day or two. I had to read it when I would be uninterrupted. I didn’t especially WANT to read it, but I had to read it.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Sarah Louise said...

now I'm torn. Liz HATED this book, and she and I seem to have similar tastes. I do like Cormac but this seems so unlike his Western stuff. I'm catching up on my Jerry Spinelli.

I had ref desk yesterday afternoon and I must say, I enjoy Saturdays more than other days b/c I get actual questions.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little scared to read it.

Literary Feline said...

I am really looking forward to reading The Road and will hopefully get to it before the end of the year. It sounds like a very powerful book. I enjoyed your post very much, by the way!

Kathy said...

I love the bare branches/winter sky analogy to describe the beauty of The Road -- that's absolutely perfect. It's a hard book to read but it deserved its Pulitzer.

Velma said...

I have enough trouble getting through the books I want to read, much less the ones I should read. Still, your review makes me consider switching it from "should" to "want."

jenny said...

I'm fairly certain this was the first review that leaves me absolutely chomping at the bit for a book. Cannot wait to read it.