November 7, 2008
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I never read All the Pretty Horses despite having purchased it at least twice while on tour over the past 12 years, never to get past the first 50 pages for some reason (unrelated to Cormac McCarthy’s brilliance, I am sure.) In 2006, I read a review of McCarthy’s latest book called The Road. The book was described as “a searing, postapocalyptic novel (in which) a father and song walk alone through burned America.” It sounded nightmare-ish, and I wondered what kind of masochist would read it. The similarity of the title to Jack Karouac’s On the Road (a walk through America inspired by jazz, spoken word and drugs) reminded me of the contrast between the idealism of the early flower power generation versus, well, today. What a drag.
So I’m not sure what made me buy The Road in an airport bookstore last month. Maybe it was that all the other books were too sunny under florescent lights, too inspirational, too palatable. Maybe it was the fact that over the past two years, I’ve allowed myself to wonder whether our fumbled stewardship of the planet was leading us in the direction of the unspeakable. Whatever the reason, I picked up The Road and I couldn’t put it down. For two long plane rides, I lived in Cormac’s imagined hell of a world completely destroyed by some undefined cataclysmic event. I was right, it was awful, the kind of nightmare that you’d rather die than experience. But it was amazing too, as you find yourself routing for the loving father and son, for their sense of purpose that drives them to move from one unsafe, uncomfortable place to another. Their survival is, for awhile, enough. And it left me feeling strangely grateful that as bad as things are, all is not lost! My kids are growing up in a troubled world, but not a hopeless world. We can plan for more than mere survival; we can work toward a better future for this planet.
It was in this spirit of resilience that I wrote the songs on my new CD Sweet Life, probably the most hope-filled collection of songs I’ve ever written. Many days, listening to the news is as dark as reading The Road. And yet for now at least, there is still life and beauty to witness, and the possibility of positive change.
Catie Curtis links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
Previous Note Books submissions (musicians discuss literature)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
guest book reviews
Soundtracked (directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2008 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)
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