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Author Archive for Hal



The Road by Cormac McCarthy

by Hal on May 10th, 2007
The Road by Cormac McCarthy Cover Image

Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Road takes place several years after an apocalyptic event (nuclear war?, meteorite? – it doesn’t really matter) has left the planet cold, dark, empty, and dangerous. There is no color, little sound. Nothing flies in the sky. Everything is covered with ash and is either dead or dying. Cannibalistic bands of “bad guys” prey on the weak.  If you are familiar with the TV series Firefly, imagine the Reavers run amok in a world of black and grey, any feeling of hope long since abandoned.

Against this backdrop of death and despair, a man and his son make their way along a road in an effort to reach “the sea”.  Why they want to reach the sea is unknown, both to themselves and to the reader; but this is a world were reason no longer applies. In visualizing their journey, I was reminded of the scene in Fantasia where the dinosaurs are walking through the desert at the end of their era. Not really going anywhere, just going until they die.

Thus do the man and boy move down the road, pushing their belongings along in a shopping cart; their journey and existence held together by simple love, and the base human faith that things will somehow be better “over there”.  The door to the human condition is not closed completely at the end of the novel. The ending is sufficiently ambiguous for the reader to write his or her own conclusion to the world described by McCarthy; a conclusion that could vary, depending upon mood and circumstance.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

by Hal on March 30th, 2007
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick Cover Image

Before you begin this 531-page novel told in words and pictures, you are asked to “picture yourself sitting in the darkness, like the beginning of a movie.”  As the images unfold you slowly see the moon rise over 1931 Paris, and eventually zoom in and focus on a young boy moving rapidly through the crowds of a vast train station. When the words finally start, we learn that this is Hugo Cabret and that he is an orphan who lives alone in the walls of the station where he maintains the numerous clocks located throughout the building; and he is a thief. We also learn that most every night Hugo works on rebuilding a mechanical puzzle that he hopes will someday reveal a message from his dead father.

Part mystery, part coming of age story, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a loving tribute to magic, family, and the genius of silent film pioneer Georges Melies (where did that come from?).  Although described as a book for young readers, this book is accessible to anyone who is willing to suspend belief for a while, let the story frames roll and refrain from flipping ahead to sneak a peek.

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