book review

I started reading "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy tonight and made it all the way to its eighth page, number ten. At that point, in an effort to prevent irreversible psychological damage, my hands put it down quicker than a stray mutt at the kill pound.*

The narrative takes place after some life-altering cataclysm that has left the landscape, well, here's a list of every adjective from the first several pages.

Page 3. dark cold dark gray cold precious plastic stinking wet inward granitic deep stone great stone black ancient far dripping rimstone dead white sightless pale naked translucent alabaster dull glass
Page 4.low first gray barren silent godless soft loose dead standing cotton ashen blue plastic grocery cornmeal plastic plastic
Page 5. small safe essential chrome motorcycle wasted empty little still gray motionless precise dead gun-metal entire old concrete few roadside gas
Page 6. broken asphalt faint stale intact service good drive metal metal old swollen sodden stained curling leaking steel quart plastic
Page 7. plastic little long gray long gray far stark black charred limbless sagging blind blackened burned stark gray raw red abandoned faded weathered open charcoal

Are you kidding me?

I'm not reading any more of this thing, not even for you, dear reader. I will drag your empty gin bottles out after dark so the neighbors won't see, but I can't take this book, not for another page. I counted three typos in those same pages, missing apostrophes and spaces. Is this "style", or is it just copy editing that sucks as much as the writing?

If you couldn't guess, there are lots of dependent clauses hanging out by themselves just for effect. As in: An effect that missed me completely.

So if you're in the market for a book, here's how to increase your chances of getting something readable. Go down to the bookstore, find "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy, and then get a book other than it.

*I do not have, nor have I ever had, a job killing dogs.


At Thursday, June 28, 2007, Blogger hank. said...

I had to read McCarthy's "Blood Meridian" in college. It was adolescent and raw, and to me was not very complex or even that good.

In short, I agree.


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