He did something yesterday he hadn't done in a long while. He stayed up most of the night reading. Cormac McCararthy's The Road.

The morning following he is tired. There is a film like liquid ash over his eyes and his eyes burn and his head is filled up with the sound of McCarthy's voice and with the boy's goodness and heartbreak.

He should write a review of the book. Because he's a writer. He's never cared much for reviews though. He thinks they require a kind of intelligence he doesnt quite possess. A slippery kind, capable of snaking beneath the hard crust of meaning into the mushy quicksand form.

And he cant get that film of liquid ash out of his eyes. There is gray and gray cat vomit in the floor. His coffee is gray and the boneweary tiredness he feels in his face and legs and even his fingers is gray too. All ash.
* * *

I actually checked the book out of the library last week. There are two new release shelves at the Galesburg Public Library: One is a fairly standard shelf filled with books released the past four or five months--lots of subpar genre and the occasional short story collection and literary novel; the day I got The Road I checked out, for J.C., for instance, Shelley Jackson's Half Life. The other shelf is smaller, off to the side, and filled with the more popular stuff. It's for rentals. Fifty cents a week. The Road was on this shelf, and it was the first time I ever paid money at the GPL for a book. (Actually, I almost got out of the library without having to pay because the librarian forgot to ask for my two quarters. I already had them in my hand when I started to walk away, and then I remembered, reminded her. O, how grateful she was, and how good I felt for being honest and charitable, etc.)

Anyway, the book is due tomorrow, and as of yesterday I'd only made it through the first seventy pages or so. I had been excited to read the book--practically everyone I'd talked to who's read it had told me it was great.

And when I started reading the book, I was intrigued for the first forty pages, and dazzled, of course, by the virtuosity of McCarthy's vision and style. The next thirty pages, though, took me a couple days to read. I just couldn't get into them, and I actually wanted to make a Mad-Lib out of the book by taking out all of the words "blackened" and "ash." I still think it would be kind of fun.

So last night I got to about page ninety, a kind of pivotal and very frightening moment in the book, and I didn't put it down after that. I was dazzled and afraid and moved. The book trembled in my hands. Like flakes of ash. For a number of reasons.

I realize the stuff that frustrated me was probably necessary for the set-up and pacing of what was to come, but despite how much I ended up liking the thing, pages forty to seventy or so really were difficult for me to get through.

Since this isn't really a review, I have a question for any readers out there who have read the book and may happen upon this entry: What is with that first-person passage on page seventy-four. It kind of came out of nowhere, and I expected its significance to return in some way later on, but it never really did. Any ideas out there? I thought, in retrospect, it might be the voice of the guy whom the boy later meets up with, but I just re-read it, and obviously it's not. So, anyone know what's up with it?

I have another question, too. This one's content- and not form-related: If the boy was born into this world, how, exactly, does he find it so terrifying? In other words, if you are born in an outhouse, do you not quickly acclimate to the smell of dung and urine, because you know nothing else? It seems McCarthy attempts to answer this in his descriptions of the boy throughout the book, pointing out he is special and whatnot, but I still found myself wondering.

If anyone's still reading: If you haven't rented a book from the library and then stayed up until four in the morning to finish it in a while, I highly recommend doing so. Despite this film of ash on my eyes. How slowly the world creeps back to life. In the end it is worth it.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I haven't felt that way about a book in far too long. I miss having to stay up too late because I don't want the experience to end.