Kings of the road - when Clarkson met Cormac

05 May 2010

I never thought I would see the worlds of Cormac McCarthy and Jeremy Clarkson collide - but I suppose I should have realised that the latter might just be intrigued by a book called The Road.

However in my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined that I would read the following review of Jeremy Clarkson's unexpected choice of winter sun holiday reading (disguised as a piece on a new BMW in his car column in the Sunday Times). This is what the great man said:

'Boy oh boy, did I pull off a blinder for my bucket-and-spade holiday reading this Easter.

It's by a chap called Cormac McCarthy, it's called The Road and it's just been made into a film. But news of this development hasn't yet reached the hill towns of the Cotswolds, so consequently, the cover on the version I bought did not feature a picture of Viggo Mortensen and a sticker saying: "Now a major motion picture." The cover was good. It looked intelligent.

But the bit inside was even better. It begins with a man and a boy walking down a road in cold weather. And it ends with a man and a boy walking down a road in cold weather. In between, not much happens. But it was brilliant. Even though it is not much thicker than a pamphlet and no longer than a warning notice on a train's lavatory door, it took me nearly a week to read. I kept going back over some of the phrases thinking: "That didn't work." But they do work.

I'm not sure Cormac McCarthy would be much fun as a dinner guest and neither would I seek his company after the death of a loved one or a family pet, but, God Almighty, the man can write. I read the damn thing on a beach in Barbados and it made me feel so cold I had to go and get a jumper.

My wife thought I'd gone mad. So she read it when I'd finished and when she got to the end she went and sat by herself for a while and sobbed.'


I have a very clever device that the good people of amazon have given me which allows me to track sales of Picador books by the hour (please don't tell any of my authors). On 25 April, when this appeared in The Sunday Times, the sales of The Road - already pretty healthy - went up by 250%. If you can communicate the excitement of a book as effectively as this, then you have my genuine admiration.

Until now, it was just my eleven and eight year old sons who were fully paid-up member of the JC fan club (for them his acerbic wit and downright rudeness - available it seems 24 hours a day on Dave - is a source of constant delight and inspiration). Now I have joined them. Surely there is a space on TV for the Jeremy Clarkson Book Club? 

 

 

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