Book Recommendation – The Road by Cormac McCarthy

As some of you know, this space is primarily for sharing my poetry and other creative endeavors; however, I will occasionally share my thoughts on works and artists that have enriched my life, hoping the work sparks something in you.

“He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.”

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Vintage Books, 2006

If someone were to describe the basic plot of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, it would likely leave most people uninspired and unlikely to look into the book for themselves.

In 2021, the idea of another story about the struggle for survival in a post-apocalyptic setting is yawn-worthy at best, and how could you possibly blame someone for such a response? The market is beyond oversaturated, with thousands of titles born of the concept. Though there may be the occasional winner, for my money, The Road stands alone as the work closest to perfection.

We join the central protagonist, simply known as The Man, and his son, The Boy on The Road, pushing a shopping cart containing all their worldly positions down a stretch of desolate highway somewhere in America. The sky is gray with ash, the trees dead and falling, wildlife, like most of humanity, virtually wiped out. A full explanation is never offered as to how or why the world came to be this way, which only furthered my curiosity for the story.

We’re quick to learn that the state of the world and the many challenges and dangers encountered by The Boy and The Man are secondary to their father and son relationship. It struck me as powerful in 2006 when I first read the novel, and in 2021, now a father of two, I find it devastatingly beautiful.

“He knew only that his child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke.”

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Vintage Books, 2006

The exchanges between The Man and The Boy are simple, real, and perhaps the most underrated aspect of this book. The dialogue between a father and son facing impossible odds. The emotional investment of the reader comes quickly, the story rooting itself in the mind, the heart.

McCarthy’s use of language is masterful. Using as little punctuation as possible, his words find the page with an authority known only to a select few. All at once, beautiful and disturbing. Moments of extreme violence followed by a brief reprieve from the nightmarish landscape to be reminded of the beauty of a child’s curiosity and how we parents try to explain the world’s cruelty without crushing their wonder.

If you’re looking for not only a new read but an experience, I cannot recommend The Road enough. This is a book that will stay with you for years to come. You’ll revisit it when you’ve felt removed enough from the cold grip of its world, and you’ll hold every book that follows to a higher standard.

Safe Travels.

5 Stars.

“People were always getting ready for tomorrow. I didn’t believe in that. Tomorrow wasn’t getting ready for them. It didn’t even know they were there.”

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Vintage Books, 2006

Gift – A Poem by Brandon White

A short, newer free verse poem that arrived fully realized while driving my daughters to school. I hope you enjoy it!


I live not for risk
or adrenal rush

not for company men
or brass rings

I live for the song

For that perfect line
of a poem

where the muse rips
open the box of mystery

like a Christmas morning gift,
raises it to me smiling and says:

For you, the world

-Brandon White

Ghost Rider – A Poem by Brandon White

Another recently unearthed free verse poem, written a few months after my father’s passing. I was inspired to write about the comfort we find in art during times of uncertainty and pain. I’m happy it’s found a place.

Ghost Rider:

You’ve been the ghost
in the seat next to me

for more miles
than I can count.

Your voice rises
from the speakers

to illuminate
the road ahead,

to make yourself known
once more.

God knows
I could use the company.

We’ve never had much use
for conversation,

so let’s fill the air
with a song once more

and build a fire
by the roadside.

I’ll stretch this body out
and turn my eyes

to the western stars.

-Brandon White

The Child – A Poem by Brandon White

This free verse piece was written around the same time as the bulk of the poems that make up my debut book, The Year that Stole the Light Away. I stumbled onto it this morning, and after seeing it with fresh eyes, I thought it would be nice to give it a home. A piece about the child that lives in us all: I hope you enjoy it.

The Child:

She remembers me from years ago,
but I can’t say the same.
She says her mind is troubled.

She tells me her mother ran off
with her stepfather.
They’re traveling the country in an RV.

She tells me she deserved more
when her father died.
Now that bastard gets it all!

She leaps from her chair
and loudly re-enacts an argument,
jabbing her finger into a phantom chest.

Her eyes fill with tears,
and at sixty years old, a lost child
cries out for her mother.

-Brandon White

The Musings of a Future Yelper – A Poem by Brandon White

I hadn’t thought about this free verse poem in a while. Before the pandemic, one of my favorite places to write was a restaurant booth or in a coffeehouse somewhere- surrounded by lives being lived and the hustle of the day. The electric air thick with poetry.

Please, come back.

The Musings of a Future Yelper:

They’ve never been able to
maintain a restaurant at this location,
and many have tried.

It’s not a bad spot, either.
Downtown, right on the avenue,
the best bars within walking distance.

I’ve sampled every establishment
that attempts to put roots down here.
They’ve all been decent enough.

For whatever reason,
the people won’t come.
Sushi, Burgers, Piano Bar, it makes no difference.

I’ve sampled cuisine
from four different countries
and sat in the same shitty booth each time.

Outside, the rain falls steadily.
It’ll be this way for the next several days, and I’m sad
my daughter might not get her last train ride of the season.

Three men enter the restaurant
and sit directly
in my line of sight.

Above me, a TV plays sports highlights
and when they watch, it feels like
they’re staring.

Maybe they are?
I’ve reached that elusive point in life
where it makes no difference.

The burger and fries
are too salty—
what a shame.

My waitress asks how everything tastes,
and I lie to make her feel better.
She smiles her crooked smile and fixes her peroxide-blonde hair.

I ask for my ticket
and she’s out of sight again.
I begin to review my latest poem.

I’m writing about food a lot lately.
I’ll be yelping before
you know it.

Outside, the rain pours on,
gathering into puddles
and flowing down the drain.

Like all the wasted minutes
in a life.

-Brandon White

The above poem, “The Musings of a Future Yelper, ” appears in my debut poetry collection, The Year that Stole the Light Away (Raw Earth Ink). Click the cover to purchase a copy!

Realization – A Poem by Brandon White

A recent free verse poem.


I've often wondered why
you entered my orbit.

A test?

A threat?

Perhaps both?

You now exist
as a ghost, a memory,

something tragic.
That's it, isn't it?

Something tragic
to haunt the mind,

the heart,

the poem.

-Brandon White

Jagged – A Poem by Brandon White

I hope you’ve all had a great week! I’m a bit under the weather this morning, but nothing some rest and meds won’t fix. Here’s a newer, free verse poem that I thought you might enjoy.


I love you
in fifteen-second bursts
that feel like dreams
to those of us who
remember how

Do you know
that kind of longing?
The kind
That sets souls
to searching

the pages of books
and unfamiliar hands?
Those of us who do
almost always return

Just as I am now, here,
in the long shadow
of your love

-Brandon White

Promises – A Poem by Brandon White

A free verse poem born from hard lessons.


Remember this moment
when the old life
calls to you again.

Remember your brokenness,
and the promises
you made in the dark.

Remember the final breath
and the frantic heartbeat
under your hand.

Remember how quickly
a life, with all its complexity,
can vanish.

-Brandon White

The poem above, “Promises,” appears in my debut poetry collection, The Year that Stole the Light Away (Raw Earth Ink). Click the cover to purchase a copy!

Sunrise – A Poem by Brandon White

A short, free verse poem that arrived this morning.


In a perfect world,
we would regard every
firey morning sky as miraculous,

and every promise made
would be holy

-Brandon White

Nature – A Poem by Brandon White

A free verse poem.


My feet touch forbidden blacktop
about 30 feet from the crosswalk
they prefer you use.
Behold my only
act of rebellion today.
My small way of setting fire
to the world.
Really, I'm just impatient.

The roasted duck soup
left a strange taste in my mouth
like cruel words.
The cold air feels electric
and helps to push me forward.
Up and down the avenue I go,
resisting the pull of each passing bar
and warm thoughts of good rye.

Hear me now;
I long for nothing.
Not for love or understanding.
Not for pity or prayer.
I have accepted my nature.
Born to wander.
Born to wonder.
Born to sit in the burning room


-Brandon White

The poem above, “Nature,” appears in my debut poetry collection, The Year that Stole the Light Away (Raw Earth Ink). Click the cover to purchase a copy!