Sunday, 20 May 2012

"A work of such terrible beauty..."

Currently reading: Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections
Currently listening to: Rita Ora's "R.I.P."
Current weather conditions: Overcast, but not TOO chilly

Again, a busy Saturday yesterday rendered it unblogable, only due to time constraints. It was a highly pleasurable day, however, and I think it is worth a BIG mention (as all days should be, once we've learned to slow down a bit and recognise each one is a gift):

- Got my hair cut and coloured a rich brown, so I feel like a new person
- Attended the 30-something birthday party for one of our friends, where I discovered the best pizza in the world.
- Attended another friend's 80th birthday party, which was delightful. The Birthday Girl is a member of the Doncaster Writers' Club, and over the past few months we all got together and wrote a poem reflecting her life, and then we got up in front of 50 people last night and read it out loud to her. She loved it. A framed copy of it was received warmly, and it's nice to know she can put it on a wall and look at it every day and remember she is loved. Also there was a young boy (8? 10? I'm so bad at guessing age) who did some killer Michael Jackson moves around the floor to such classics as "Beat It" and "Billie Jean," to resounding applause. Also we  (our table) played balloon volleyball with about 5 balloons at the same time. There were so many!

Today,  I want to talk about Cormac McCarthy's The Road. A friend at work has very kindly given this book to me as part of World Book Night 2012, which took place on April 23rd. I'm sure you already know this, being a Shakespeare fan yourself, but this was the day of Shakespeare's birth and death, and it is sort of globally known - in the literary realm, anyway - to be a day of great importance to the history of literature. Each World Book Night selection has printed inside it a Shakesperian sonnet, individual to each title. The one for The Road is Sonnet 64.

Tread softly.

And so! This was one of the selections given out free to help celebrate the importance of books, and let me tell you. It is. Amazing.

Amazing is such a big word though, that, after a while, sort of loses its flavor. When I say it in this instance I mean precisely this:

It is: "A work of such terrible beauty that you will struggle to look away." - The Times

"Emotionally shattering... The Road affirms belief in the tender pricelessness of the here and now. In creating an exquisite nightmare, it does not add to the cruelty and ugliness of our times; it warns us now how much we have to lose...Beauty and goodness are here aplenty and we should think about them. While we can." - Alan Warner, Guardian

I myself am a major fan of post-apocalyptic stories. Like Nevil Shute's On The Beach and Richard Matheson's I Am Legend.

Published in 2006, The Road is a jarring and devastating read without the usual structure (like chapters, speech tags, uniform punctuation and "quotation marks" that you would normally find to signifiy the passage of time and dialogue, respectively). It is literally stripped bare, almost stream-of-consciousness, in such a way that it brings you right in with our nameless characters, and let me tell you I have never been happier for the existence of a can of peaches. Never. Ever.

This book is the reason why people write. It is also the reason people read.

Getting to the end of a book and reading that last sentence is a special moment for me. It's transformative. Beautiful. Magical. The end of this book rendered me speechless. It inspires awe. I went upstairs, completely without words, and I reflected on my life for a good twenty minutes.

This is a book that changes you.

And I highly recommend it.

Happy Sunday, all!


  1. Billy Shakespeare, you say? Never heard of the chap, but this side of the world, on that very same day we commemorate the death of (Mickey de) Cervantes. Hmm, interesting fact.

    Cheers, Vee!

    Víctah, a beast with two (paper)backs (in bed)

    1. Well now, good old Billy Shakes has some serious competition for his sunrise/sunset day!

      How amazing that they both died at the same time, April 23, 1616... what are the odds of that? It makes me wonder if maybe they met each other and talked about ideas that later became Don Quixote and Macbeth, and then kept trying to out-do the other. Even! From beyond the grave...ooOOoooooo

      Or maybe they were best friends. And one couldn't live when the other passed away (oh, how romantic!).

      Thanks, Víctah, for opening my eyes to good old Mickey de Cervantes, and reminding me that the best ideas (chivalry, madness, innocence) never die.

    2. Haha, dear oh dear, I'm afraid there's even a film on that, Miguel y William (2007), one thou shalt never watch! (voice from beyond the grave). Please, just don't (Christopher Walken's voice).

      Also, there's this play supposedly written by Shakes and Fletcher called Cardenio, based on a minor character in the first part of Don Quixote, the end of which I've totally forgotten. D'oh! I have yet to read anything by Cormac McCarthy, but after reading your post I surely will.

      April, the cruelest month? Shakespeare, Cervantes, World Book Night and Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day. Books and ice cream. Like no way, dude.

      Congrats for such a cool blog, Vee! Cheers!

    3. By the way, Vee, have you checked your gmail account lately? It's nothing, really. Sorry for being so insistent/demanding/annoying.

      Thanks in advance!

  2. And thank you for reading my blog, glad you enjoy it.

    April was the cruellest month...until Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day! How on earth did I miss this?!

    Between that, Billy, Mickey, and World Book Night, I can't imagine a better month!

    And you're not being insistent or demanding or annoying. I have just checked my email...sadly, only spam. :/

    And I'll be looking for that film lol.

    I'd be interested to hear what you think of McCarthy. Blood Meridian is also a wild ride.

  3. Argh! I tried on FB this time. It's been so long since the last time I used it, I didn't even know of this timeline thing. The message must be somewhere with the rubbish, I'm afraid.

    Loving McCarthy's Blood Meridian so far. I decided to give it a go before I start reading The Road. This might sound lame, but I watched the film, so I guess that one can wait. By the way, did you get to finish Beloved, by Toni Morrison? I found it kinda hard to read, somehow.

    See you around, Vee!

    1. Haha, Víctah, I know exactly what you mean about FB. It seems to change every five minutes! Sorry to hear your message must have gotten lost in spam, please do resend and I'll keep my eye out for it.

      Blood Meridian still good, yeah? I'd love to hear what you think of the ending.

      I've never actually seen The Road film, but I hear it's a pretty faithful adaptation...

      And wow, I've just recently written a blog post in answer to your question about Beloved! Have a look!

      All best,