You might remember that a couple of months back, I went into pretty good detail about how monumentally moved I was by Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2007. For anyone who missed it, either the column or the novel itself, the book is simply a flat-out masterpiece. It's honestly -- and I'm sorry for the hyperbole but I don't think I'm overstating it here -- damn near a life-changer, the kind of searingly powerful piece of writing that comes along only a few times in a generation. It's just that good -- that potent.
Whether you find yourself personally affected by The Road or not, it seems almost impossible to deny McCarthy's skill in creating something of such breathtaking poetic beauty; you'd have to be an idiot -- or maybe someone who gets a visceral thrill out of being a contrarian just for the hell of it -- to argue with the fact that the man can write like a son-of-a-bitch.
Well, I'll let you decide which one of the two Salon's Stephanie Zacharek is. Her review of the film adaptation of The Road -- a movie which hits theaters this weekend -- is actually not much more than an excuse for her to air what are obviously some long pent-up grievances against the book. Now of course everyone's entitled to his or her opinion and God knows I've taken plenty of shots at people higher up the cultural food chain than I am, but Zacharek's review comes off as laughably petty -- to say nothing of mildly disconnected from reality; her denigration not just of the book but of McCarthy's writing in general left my fucking jaw hanging open -- not because I think it's impossible to criticize Cormac McCarthy, but because Stephanie Zacharek calling Cormac McCarthy "gracelessly repetitive" is like the president of the Amarillo High School A.V. club calling Stanley Kubrick a "painfully tedious" filmmaker.
Salon has some really terrific writers and reporters -- Joan Walsh, Mike Madden and Glenn Greenwald immediately come to mind. Then it has the wonder twins of movie and TV criticism: Stephanie Zacharek and Heather Havrilesky, respectively. Havrilesky in particular is to me what Tom Friedman is to Matt Taibbi -- a writer so bloody awful that I can't help but read. Her regular column is sort of like -- to borrow a line from the movie Go -- The Family Circus of commentary; it's impossible to ignore because it just sits there every Sunday, waiting to suck.
Don't believe me? Try to make it through this.
As for Zacharek's review of The Road, you have to see that for yourself as well -- and make sure to pore over the comment section to see how many others feel the same way I do.
Salon: "The Road: Post-Apocalypse Now" by Stephanie Zacharek/11.25.09