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Book Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

What follows is a fictional interview with McCarthy and an imaginary journalist encapsulating my thoughts on this vacuous, over-hyped joke of a novel.

Interviewer: So, Mister McCarthy, I hear your next book is going to have a post-apocalyptic setting.

McCarthy: That’s right.

Interviewer: Interesting. Tell me, how are you going to prepare for writing a book like that? Are you going to go out and read a bunch of post-apocalyptic novels?

McCarthy: (laughs) Are you kidding me? I’m Cormac McCarthy. I’ve got a Pulitzer. I’m the only author Howard Bloom doesn’t hate. Why should I pay attention to what a bunch of shitty genre writers are doing? I couldn’t possibly learn anything from them. No, I’m going to totally ignore all generic antecedents and just do my own thing.

Interviewer: Wow, that’s certainly a bold position. But in that case, are you at least going to invest a great deal of effort into creating a unique and believable post-apocalyptic world?

McCarthy: Nah, I’ll just keep it super generic and vague. Details like that aren’t important, anyway. This story is about characters.

Interviewer: Ah, so it’s character-driven then! I suppose you’ll be conducting rigorous thought experiments, to try and understand what it would be like to exist in a post-apocalyptic world, so you can create compelling and believable characters? Maybe you’ll do some research on displaced peoples, refugees, survivors of warfare and genocide...?

McCarthy: No, I’m not going to bother doing that either. I’m just going to base the characters on myself and my son.

Interviewer: Forgive me if I’m wrong, Mister McCarthy, but you are a wealthy, prize-winning author living in a first world country. You and your family are very well-off. You want for nothing and enjoy all the best things in life. Given that, how could you, or your son, possibly have anything in common with the desperate, dispossessed inhabitants of a harrowing post-apocalyptic wasteland?

McCarthy: We don’t.

Interviewer: So, isn’t this whole thing terribly facile, then?

McCarthy: It is. It’s facile and lazy. But I don’t have to bother doing research or writing believable characters, not when I can simply dazzle the audience into loving the book in spite of all its flaws.

Interviewer: Ah, I see. And how do you intend to dazzle the audience? With your amazing prose perhaps?

McCarthy: No, I can’t be bothered writing good prose anymore either. I’ll fill the book with awkward sentences, grammatical abortions, and pretentious word choices that will force the reader to keep their dictionary very close at hand.

Interviewer:, if you’re not going to have a rich setting, believable characters, or even great prose, how do you intend to dazzle the audience?

McCarthy: With my reputation, of course. Don’t you listen to Howard Bloom? I’m the greatest living writer. Also, I’m pretty sure Oprah will promote the book on her show.

Originally posted on Goodreads

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