Critical Overview

Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 novel, The Road, has been named by critics as one of the best books of the decade; it currently ranks number eight on Metacritic’s list of highest scoring books of all time.McCarthy himself is consistently named as one of the top writers of his generation, which puts him in the company of such skilled authors as Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, and Philip Roth. His prose style is often described as "Faulknerian," and he is praised for his ability to raise genre fiction like the western and the gothic to literary and artistic heights. McCarthy was awarded the National Book Award for his 1992 novel All the Pretty Horses, and The Road earned him the coveted Pulitzer Prize in 2007, the same year the film adaptation of his novel No Country for Old Men won multiple Academy Awards.

Critics find much to love about McCarthy's version of apocalyptic literature. Here, the gritty surroundings of No Country for Old Men and Blood Meridian have reached their inevitable conclusion, but rather than waste time detailing how the world ends, McCarthy chooses instead to start the book after the destruction has ensued and explore what life might be like for survivors. This choice transforms the plot from sensationalist pulp to moving allegory. Without much backstory, without even character names, the father and son become archetypes of themselves. In a review for The Observer, Adam Mars-Jones compares McCarthy's plot structure to "a thought and feeling experiment, bleak, exhilarating (in fact endurable), only because of its integrity, its wholeness of seeing." Other critics echo this sentiment: McCarthy, they say, has written a new kind of myth for the twenty-first century.

Contributing to the myth-like quality of the book,...

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