Once a year, I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It’s a cathartic annual ritual for me. What is it about this novel that has such an impact on my soul and those of other readers? Who is the man who wrote it, and what was he trying to do with this story of a father and son struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic landscape?

For answers to these questions, I decided to talk to a foremost expert on McCarthy’s work, as well as the literature of the American West in general. His name is Steven Frye and he’s a professor of English, a novelist in his own right, and the author and editor of several books about the reclusive, philosophical author, including Understanding Cormac McCarthy. We begin our conversation with some background on McCarthy and a discussion of his distinctive style and themes, and why he avoids the limelight and prefers to hang out with scientists over fellow artists. We then dive into The Road, and Steve unpacks what inspired it, as well as the authors and books that influenced it. We then dig into the big themes of The Road, and how it can be read as a biblical allegory that wrestles with the existence of God. We delve into the tension which exists between the father and son in the book, and what it means to “carry the fire.” We end our conversation with why reading The Road makes you feel both depressed and hopeful at the same time.

A spoiler alert here: If you haven’t read The Road yet, we do reveal some of the plot points in this discussion. Also, why haven’t you read The Road yet?

Resources Related to the Podcast

Other books by Steven Frye, including his novel Dogwood CrossingMcCarthy’s books mentioned in the show:>The RoadAll the Pretty HorsesBlood MeridianThe Orchard KeeperNo Country for Old MenThe Sunset LimitedThe film adaptation of The RoadThe Santa Fe InstituteBrothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky“Cat in the Rain” — short story by Ernest Hemingway“Indian Camp” — short story by Ernest HemingwayAoM Podcast #635: The Existentialist’s Survival GuideAoM Article: Carry the FireAoM Article: Books So Good I’ve Read Them 2X (Or More!)

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The post Podcast #760: Cormac McCarthy, The Road, and Carrying the Fire appeared first on The Art of Manliness.