Thursday 15 October 2009

The Road by Cormack McCarthy

Ohmygodohmygod - "The Road" is about to come out in cinemas, so if you haven't read the novel yet then you need to read it right now!

Seeing something on film puts someone else's images irrevocably in your head and makes it nearly impossible for you to create your own, so to get the most out of a novel you really have to read it before you see a film version. With "The Road," especially, the post-apocalypse setting draws on the reader's own fears and imagination so much that it's well worth reading before watching.

Basically a father and his young son try to survive in a world that, physically and socially, has been almost completely destroyed by some unspecified disaster. It's dark and horrible, with some nasty surprises, and a wonderfully intricate relationship between father and son. I hadn't realised until I saw a plug for the film that McCarthy had written it after becoming a father again in his sixties, which just adds layers to the play of love, fear and responsibility between them and makes the plot itself all the more poignant, even if you don't happen to already spend any time imagining what a post-climate change world might look like for anyone who survives that.

I warn you, there are spoilers for the book even in the blurb for the film, so beg, borrow or steal this book before you see it - do it now!

Sorry I can't find anything to link to that doesn't have at least some spoilers in it, and it's so well worth scaring yourself with in your own good time that I'm just going to link to Amazon so you can buy it.


Sophia said...

I dunno, I'm starting to ponder the argument that the book is always better and more nuanced than the you should read the book second so that you enjoy it twice, rather than being disappointed by the film.

Your excitement definitely makes me want to see the film and read the book though.

Alice said...

I don't think books are necessarily always better than films, but I do think it's pretty much impossible to avoid "seeing" the characters and landscapes in your own way if you've already seen someone else's interpretation of them in a film version.

If a film adaptation is done well then I often don't mind losing some of the detail of the book, so I'm not too worried about seeing the film second - in fact it often only adds to a film if you already know a lot more detail than the film is able to show.

I certainly found that with "The Golden Compass", for example, which looks great but is pretty shallow compared with the amazing depth of the books. Would've hated to have been denied the chance to build my own mental images of that by seeing the film first - it actually looked even better in my head!

Steve Hayes said...

One of the reasons I haven't seen the "Lord of the Rings" films is that I don't want to spoil the pictures in my head.

But strangely enough i don't have similar objections to the Harry Potter films.