McCarthy tells a story in a way that is subtle in its verbal portrayal of what is going on. There are words in a story, and then there are the images created in the mind. What isn’t said can sometimes help to add certain details that make a character tangible or place the reader actually in a certain situation to experience an emotion or thought along with the character. McCarthy does this. A simple dialogue between the boy and his father is a charged emotional tension that is never verbalized on the page. The recognition of the father of some sound in the darkness or splatter of red on the snow conveys a searing hot idea into the brain that doesn’t vanish away with the turn of the page. I won’t forget the story because it was made real.
I will read this book again for sure. I actually read it while writing my final papers for a couple of my history classes. Some of my memorable quotes are these: (Spoiler alert: I don’t give away the book, but it gives away possibly some interesting parts)
This is a scary part of the book when the man and the boy come across a house with some prisoners and they discover a horror of the evil people who live there:
“He started down the rough wooden steps. He ducked his head and then flicked the lighter and swung the flame out over the darkness like an offering. Coldness and damp. An ungodly stench. The boy clutched at his coat. He could see part of a stone wall. Clay floor. An old mattress darkly stained. He crouched and stepped down again and held out the light. Huddled against the back wall were naked people, male and female, all trying to hide, shielding their faces with their hands. On the mattress lay a man with his legs gone to the hip and the stumps of them blackened and burnt. The smell was hideous. Then one by one they turned and blinked in the pitiful light. Help us, they whispered. Please help us. He turned and grabbed the boy. Hurry, he said. Hurry.”
This is from when the man speaks to his son, in a very moving way.
“I know, I’m sorry. You have my whole heart. You always did. You’re the best guy. You always were. If I’m not here you can still talk to me. You can talk to me and I’ll talk to you. You’ll see.
Will I hear you?
Yes. You will. You have to make it like talk taht you imagine. And you’ll hear me. You have to practice. Just don’t give up. Okay?
Another line from the man to his boy.
“Goodness will find the little boy. It always has. It will again.”
I can’t recommend a book more than this. It is moving and touching and engaging all in one, and as I scanned the end again trying to put in a couple quotes I was still moved by it. McCarthy takes us to both ends of the spectrum of humanity both good and bad. It’s definitely worth the three or four hours that you’ll buzz through this in.