Friday, May 2, 2008

Highway 61 Revisited (Bob Dylan)

Wednesday night was our book club discussion group meeting, and I mentioned earlier in the week that this month's selection was The Road by Cormac McCarthy - it has now joined To Kill a Mockingbird, Broken for You, Prodigal Summer and others in my Top Ten.

As I said, despite the stark subject (post-apocalyptic America), the language is stunning - although the reader visualizes the landscape in terms of black/bleak, gray/ashen, white/snowy (with splotches of occasional red/blood), the tone is undeniably optimistic. McCarthy is liberal (but not elitist) with his use of unrecognizable vocabulary, to the point where I almost suspected they were made up but, upon dictionary perusal, determined they were indeed real (rachitic and crozzled and parsible, oh my) - his not contractions were also apostrophe-deficient (shouldnt, didnt, cant), conjuring thoughts of calling in TEAL, a bit of comic relief to break up the horror (weak grin)...

The novel reminded me of Stephen King's The Stand (a long-time favorite), another tale of good vs. evil, although with fewer characters, less dialogue and more symbolism - McCarthy's prose is substantially more poetic and the undercurrent of hope is equally prevalent, but not easily told in shades of black or white (no pun intended)...

I don't think I'll ever be able to view a See Rock City sign, drink a Coca Cola or eat canned peaches without a visceral reaction - I'm also reminded to hug my (almost-grown) children more frequently, show my husband (of almost 32 years) I love him more demonstrably and stop and smell the "fire" more mindfully...

One member absolutely hated the book, and asked if anyone wanted her copy... and I quickly spoke up so I could pass it on to a friend - to say I'd highly recommend is an understatement (various said-it-better-than-I-ever-could reviews below)...


Washington Post

SONG: Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

POEM: For the Children by Gary Snyder

The rising hills, the slopes
of statistics
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light

QUOTE: "The future is called "perhaps," which is the only possible thing to call the future. And the only important thing is not to allow that to scare you." ~ Tennessee Williams

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