Missed me didn’t ‘cha? And now you expect me to wax on about the New Year and all of my goals. Perhaps you are reading this expecting a list of some best or worst. Well, I’m cranky and you are not getting it.
How ’bout a book review instead.Of a book published 3-4 years ago.
I am a huge fan of dystopian literature. I read Brave New World at thirteen and loved it. I’ve worn out several copies over the years. The same goes for A Clockwork Orange , a book that has been strangely prophetic. This being the case I tend to snatch up any books that promise me a twisted vision of how the world will be. Recently I read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
Where have all the writers gone? Honestly, the whole book reads like a bad episode of Survivorman. The characters spend every waking moment foraging and being cold. By the third chapter I had to wrap up in a blanket in sympathy. A gray blanket. Because McCarthy’s entire world is gray. Gray ash, gray water, gray land, gray people. It’s a newsprint world. And yes I understand tone so just put your little snarky comments back in your pocket. The only light that appears for the main character is his son. Got it. It’s just overkill. 287 pages of gray is a bit much. And overdone in literature. Killing color is the first sign of a dystopian book. That’s how you know it’s really a book about ‘a brave new world’. And I will skip over the zombie like humans who are eating others to survive. While it makes a queer kind of sense, it also lends a little sub genre reality that isn’t really nessacery. He also never tells us why the world went up in flames, as if it weren’t important. Readers are supposed to surmise an apocalypse of some kind but he never states even briefly what it is. Even Lord Of The Flies gives us a vague ‘war’. Forgive me but if you are going to torch the entire earth don’t you think a little detail like how it happened is important?
My real issue is the writing. Oy! The writing. How how did this book win a Pulitzer? How? Who is on the committee?
This book is really badly written. The second sentence of the first chapter could have been written by a bright third grader. It jars. And not in a ” look this is where I leave a symbol so you can guess what I am talking about” kind of way. No, it just jars. Other sentences throughout the book also caused me to say to myself “wait, what?” Forcing me to re-read entire swaths of pages to reset the images presented. I find this unpleasant when I am reading and usually avoid books that do it on purpose. I just don’t think McCarthy was doing it on purpose. It doesn’t flow well at all. The repetitious use of words and actions slow the reading down to a crawl. I have always understood repetition to be a literary device, three and out. More than that and you aren’t being artistic, you need a thesaurus. And the timing is poor. Of course this is an issue I have with a lot of contemporary American literature. We, as American writers , seem to have forgotten the basic flow of a story. It goes like this: beginning, middle, end. Not beginnnnnnninnng, mid,e. Or my other favorite, beginnnnnnnning,m,ennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd. It’s not artistic to screw with a readers expectations in such a way as to make your book difficult to read, even if the story is intriguing. It’s damn irritating.
So yeah, could have been better. A lot better. The basic story is good, there are just too many distractions in the writing to make it something I would slog through more than once.
Happy Dystopian New Year to you and your flesh-eating zombies.