What are some weaknesses in this novel, as far as the writing itself goes? Some examples from the book would be very helpful!
I dare you to find any missteps in The Road. It's an airtight classic.
The novel won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It scored a 90 out of 100 on 31 Metacritic reviews. Oprah Winfrey added it immediately to her "Book Club" and went to Sana Fe, New Mexico to be the first (and only) to interview Cormac McCarthy on television.
You'll get no complaints about the writing from Oprah or me.
There are some who find the material "depressing," like my mother-in-law, but I dare say it is a novel of hope. The dialogue between the father and son is heartfelt. After all, a key theme of The Road is sacrifice, the father giving up his life to protect the son. How is that depressing?
There are some who find the material cliche, with all the post-apocalyptic books and films coming out in the last 10 years: A Canticle for Leibowitz, Y: The Last Man, The Book of Eli, Zombieland. But, I think, The Road is more thoughtful and filled with much better prose than all of the others. It's not pure science-fiction / fantasy: it's more of a parable, like the story of Genesis but set in the book of Revelation.
There are some who are bothered by McCarthy's lack of punctuation. After all, he doesn't use quotation marks in his dialogue, so it can be tricky to follow. But, there's only two main characters in the book. How hard can it be? I applaud the minimalistic style and lack of convention. It's like reading a really long e. e. cummings poem.
There are some who think it's a "guy-guy" book. After all, there aren't any females, living anyways (the mother has committed suicide). Need I mention the Oprah factor above? She has some clout with the ladies. True, the novel does not rank high on the feminist reading list, and McCarthy's scenario is all about fatherhood (he wrote it for his own son):
McCarthy told Oprah Winfrey that his four-year-old son John practically cowrote the book: “I suppose it is a love story to my son.”
There are some who don't like the prose-poetry style of writing. After all, McCarthy mixes sentences with fragments, description with imagery and interior monologue. But, the poetic images litter the otherwise desolate landscape with ornamental beauty. Just look at this passage:
In the dream from which he'd wakened he had wandered in a cave where the child led him by the hand. Their light playing over the wet flowstone walls. Like pilgrims in a fable swallowed up and lost among the inward parts of some granitic beast. Deep stone flues where the water dripped and sang. Tolling in the silence the minutes of the earth and the hours and the days of it and the years without cease. Until they stood in a great stone room where lay a black and ancient lake. And on the far shore a creature that raised its dripping mouth from the rimstone pool and stared into the light with eyes dead white and sightless as the eggs of spiders. It swung its head low over the water as if to take the scent of what it could not see. Crouching there pale and naked and translucent, its alabaster bones cast up in shadow on the rocks behind it. Its bowels, its beating heart. The brain that pulsed in a dull glass bell. It swung its head from side to side and then gave out a low moan and turned and lurched away and loped soundlessly into the dark.
For some authors, this paragraph would take the work of a lifetime. For McCarthy, it's page one.