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The Road

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Dissident Heart

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The Road

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The Road by Cormac MccarthyI remember seeing this reviewed in the New York Times back in September and I was reminded of it by a friend who read it recently and simply couldn't find the words to describe its impact. It's about a son and his father and their survival in a post-apocalyptic world. It is one of five finalists for the National Book Critics' Circle Award.Quote:In "The Road" a boy and his father lurch across the cold, wretched, wet, corpse-strewn, ashen landscape of a post-apocalyptic world. The imagery is brutal even by Cormac McCarthy's high standards for despair. This parable is also trenchant and terrifying, written with stripped-down urgency and fueled by the force of a universal nightmare. "The Road" would be pure misery if not for its stunning, savage beauty.This is an exquisitely bleak incantation
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Chris OConnor

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Re: The Road

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Sounds like an awesome book if the religous undertones could be stripped away.
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Re: The Road

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D.H., I had No Country for Old Men as my next McCarthy book to be read, but I'd read The Road if you want to do it as a "group" thing.Chris, I read McCarthy's Blood Meridian. Although the book had significant "religious undertones" as you suggest, it didn't detract from the book for me. I thought one metaphor, where gunpowder is linked to the eucharist, paticularly pleasing. Edited by: irishrosem at: 3/10/07 8:49 am
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Re: The Road

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I was serious about it sounding like a good book. Have you read Alas Babylon? It is required reading for many high school students so you might have read it at some point. It's a great book by Pat Frank about how the world would be after a nuclear attack.
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Re: The Road

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Chris: Sounds like an awesome book if the religous undertones could be stripped away.I suppose there's something about end of the world narratives that express the kind of ultimacy and absolutist attention that religions often demand. Questions about what ultimately matters, who are we really, what and who are we willing to sacrifice, the power of hope in seemingly hopeless circumstances, how we live with loss, grief, sadness, lost dreams, and terrifying futures, what are we willing to do for love....it makes sense that a story like The Road would reflect some of these religious themes.I also think there is something about apocalyptic narratives that give voice to what you are saying here Chris: the desire to finally rid the world of something...to completely eliminate and cleanse humanity of some sort of unredeemable evil: to fully annihilate some absolutely unacceptable threat. Perhaps there is a demon "if only" perched on all of our shoulders feeding dark fantasies of revenge and punishment...whispering images of a world clean of our enemies...imagining what it would be like if they (the infidel, the heretic, the atheist, the criminal, the terrorist, the religious) were finally gone, or, as you stated, stripped away.irishrose: I'd read The Road if you want to do it as a "group" thing.I'm game, and plan on getting it this weekend. I suppose we can utilize this thread.
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Re: The Road

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D.H., I think I spoke too soon. If it's not in paperback or I can't get it on sale, I'm probably unlikely to buy it. I'll look this weekend, but I don't like McCarthy enough to buy it hard bound. And, in general, I prefer soft bound books, they're easy to travel with. I'll let you know if I'll be joining you sometime early next week. Edited by: irishrosem at: 3/10/07 1:48 pm
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Chris OConnor

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As usual you're taking my rather straight-forward comments and blowing them out of proportion and out of context. Why you seem to do this so often is beyond me. Do I have to completely avoid all of your posts so that I'm not forced to continually defend my motives and arguments? Can't we have a more honest dialogue...ever?The book looks good. That's pretty much my message. I just could do without the continuous references to an imaginary supernatural being. To me this is ridiculous and not even remotely necessary.In the book description you provide check out the religious undertones I'm seeing:Quote:brings an almost biblical fury Quote:bears witness to sights man was never meant to see. Quote:There is no prophet in the earth's long chronicle who is not honored here todayQuote:And in a perverse miracle Quote:providing the reader with more and more clues about what destroyed itQuote:he is not the word of God God never spokeAnd you said:Quote:...the desire to finally rid the world of something...to completely eliminate and cleanse humanity of some sort of unredeemable evil: to fully annihilate some absolutely unacceptable threat.Come on Dissident. My brief post wasn't about ridding the world of the evils of religion and you know it. Why the need to continually twist other peoples words, erect straw men and then cleverly knock them down?My statement about wanting religion and God out of the book isn't any different than if I said, "The book would probably be great if the author weren't continually referencing a celestial teapot." I'm talking about the illogical link between a nonexistent supernatural being and the very real possibility of a massive global catastrophe where civilization, as we know it, is largely destroyed. Common sense tells that rational individual that a nonexistent supernatural being cannot be the cause of such an apocalyptic event, but the belief in a nonexistent supernatural being could easily be the cause. Books that dumb down the already ignorant masses are dangerous and this appears to be one more such book. But if the irrational elements could be removed it might be a damn good read. That was my point. Pretty straight-forward stuff.Quote:Questions about what ultimately matters, who are we really, what are we and who and what are we willing to sacrifice, the power of hope in seemingly hopeless circumstances, how we live with loss, grief, sadness, lost dreams, and terrifying futures, what are we willing to do for love....it makes sense that a story like The Road would reflect some of these religious themes.None of these are "religious themes" Dissident. They are human themes. This is what disgusts many of us atheists. The attempt to lay claim to any and all of the "Big Questions" in life by the theistic community is ludicrous.Don't atheists and rationalists ponder these issues just as frequently as just as intensely as you theists? Of course we do....we just don't summon a nonexistent supernatural being for their input. We rely on reason to figure our way through life's great questions.Quote:Questions about what ultimately mattersThis isn't a "religious theme," as all humans tend to ask this question and attempt to figure out what ultimately matters. I'm an atheist and I'm under the impression that I contemplate this question far more than most Christians I've encountered. So this isn't the domain of religion, Dissident.Quote:who are we reallyWe're one species with some fantastic characteristics. But we're merely animals. Again, this isn't a religious question although some of you like to imagine that humans have some elevated status among Kingdom Animalia.I could go on and on, but you won't even address my points so I'm done right here.
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Dissident Heart

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Re: The Road

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chris: As usual you're taking my rather straight-forward comments and blowing them out of proportion and out of context.I think I was pretty straight forward in placing your comment in context: a context that involves apocalyptic narratives, many of which find fuel in the fairly common human desire to rid our planet of unwanted elements. I think it's an obvious connection; your usual overreaction, I think, confirms the connection.Chris: brings an almost biblical furyIs hardly endorsing a Biblical world view, or particular Judeo-Christian moral or religious perspective...but placing, again, in proper context the Biblical influences upon most apocalyptic narratives in English language. Perhaps you should read some Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekial...it would offer you similar narratives describing the terrible consequences of human folly on earth and society. I think it is this same Prophetic impulse to challenge the hubris and ignorance of human action that provides a good deal of the foundation for much of the Atheist tradition you proudly proclaim. This Prophetic Pathos has been essential in shaping the course of Humanity's drive to speak out against political abuse, cultural decadence, and social injustice...it is an ancient tradition that vividly describes the world that human abuse can and often does produce. It can also warp into something perverse and devastating, feeding the worst part of our nature: the passion to punish and destroy...to seek vengeance and payback of the worst sort. This plays out into the kinds of Cosmic Apocalyptic scenarios that pray for God to come and annihilate all the bad guys, saving Heaven for the chosen few.I think this warped Prophetic pathos is prominent in most Religious Fundamentalisms, but it also finds fertile soil in those Atheists who see only delusion and ignorance in all things religious. I think your initial comment carried enough trace of the latter, Chris, that it warranted my placing it in the context I chose.Chris: Why the need to continually twist other peoples words, erect straw men and then cleverly knock them down? I've twisted nothing and see no trace of straw anywhere. If you are unwilling to see the connections, that's your perogative.Chris: None of these are "religious themes" Dissident. They are human themes.I didn't say they were only religious themes Chris. Strawman alert! These are prominent and prevalent in much of what is almost universally understood as religious life and spiritual ways of making sense of the world. A book that addressed these themes would hardly be remarkable for utilizing this common religious framework. Chris: Books that dumb down the already ignorant masses are dangerous and this appears to be one more such book. But if the irrational elements could be removed it might be a damn good read.Again, if only we could remove the irrational element in life...perhaps if we started with all books that include irrational stuff...then we could move on to the ignorant masses...then hell, life would be a great place for the very few informed Atheists, who are the only rational ones around.
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Re: The Road

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D.H. responses like this can be incredibly infuriating. I understand Chris's frustration.I stopped in a couple second hand bookstores, but no one had The Road yet. (I did, however, find Alas, Babylon, Chris. I wasn't even looking for it; it just popped out at me. And at $1.50 I had to get it. Never read it in school.) I'm thinking of getting The Road online, but probably won't start reading it until next week. Is anyone else interested in joining? Chris? Mad? Mr.P.? You're the one who brought up the fiction discussions, afterall. I'm just trying to guilt some additional participants to the discussion. Edited by: irishrosem at: 3/11/07 10:08 am
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Chris OConnor

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Re: The Road

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Personally, I'd be more inclined to read and discuss Alas Babylon. I'm sure I've got a copy available somewhere around here. And if not it is one of those books every library seems to have on hand.Dissident, would you be interested in reading Alas Babylon?
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