Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Road, book to film

Last weekend the library in my neighborhood of Noe Valley re-opened after more than two years of renovations, the mayor was there, and it was this whole big ceremony. My wife Erica and I, being active community members (not really) decided to check it out (mostly for a shot at meeting San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom). After the ceremony we went into the new library, which was extremely nice, and I felt somewhat obligated to check something out. So I picked up the first two volumes of the One Piece manga, and an audio book of a title that struck me as very familiar. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.

Back in January I mentioned the next project on deck for Viggo Mortenson, and Charlize Theron, would be a post apocalyptic film based off a 2006 Pulitzer prize winning novel, The Road. And once I realized that this was what I held in my hands I eagerly took a listen.

I think you have to be of a certain mindset to enjoy an audio book. I personally love them. I spend a lot of my day with an ipod headphone planted in my ear and find that every now and again, to just let myself drift away to the sounds of someone reading to me is absolutely amazing. It's super relaxing but keeps me focused. And I really need that kind of centering sometimes.

Having finished listening to The Road today, I have to say I was amazed. It is a fantastic, and tragic story set against the backdrop of a bleak and grey world. The style of writing is stilted and plain, but amazingly poetic. I completely understand why many people compare Cormac McCarthy to William Faulkner. It is Americana, pure and simple. Only Cormac's America is the broken shell of what once was. I haven't read too many post-apocalyptic books before, maybe a few, but this was definitely the best 'real world take' on what the future could hold. It is scary, really scary. The plot follows a man, and his son as they walk the road. Headed south and west, across the country, stumbling through a world in perpetual cloud, covered in ash. I suppose its supposed to be after the bombs have fallen, in a nuclear winter, but thats never explicitly said. The world that is seen in The Road has been in this state of decay for a number of years, maybe 10 or more. And its gotten to a point where even the Mad Max style lawlessness and the blood cults of cannibals have stopped for the most part. It is a world on the very edge of death. There are no more birds, no more trees, no more living anything. It is really the end. I kept hoping that it would have some sign of hope, and while it does ultimately show some for people in themselves, there is no refuge for the world at large in the book. I was moved by how sad this story is.

I am definitely looking forward to seeing how they screenwriters handle the ongoing internal monologue of the book. If the beauty and poetry can translate from the words onto the screen. This could be a fantastic film though. It is so emotionally charged, that it could be just heartbreaking. We'll see, I am definitely excited to keep my eye on The Road now more than ever though.

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