The Road, Again


To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Mad Libs, publisher Price Stern Sloan recently announced a surprise collaboration with author Cormac McCarthy. The notoriously somber McCarthy agreed to allow fans of the word game the opportunity to make their own contributions to several passages from The Road, Again-the sequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Road-which has already been hailed by Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times as “so goddamn depressing.”

The Road, Again picks up where The Road left off, charting the adventures of a recently orphaned 8-year-old boy as he travels through a post-apocalyptic landscape of murder, cannibalism, and despair looking for his misplaced collection of antique Scandinavian dish towels.

The editors have left the first few sentences unaltered so participants can familiarize themselves with McCarthy’s peculiar language. After that, you’re on your own.

Utterly alone.

And defenseless.

And probably doomed.

In a bleak and hopelessly brutal world.

Let’s have some fun!

1) The boy rose in the implacable gray of morning. Pale hum of lugubrious earth. The forest with its asthmatic, crozzled pines offered no shield from penetrating cold. He (past-tense verb) upon the great dyspeptic pendulum of (adjective) sky. His eyes enkindled in (definite article) cool inebriation of caustic morning scanning the country in manacled (color) decay.

(Profanity)! he thought, Where did I put my collection of antique Scandinavian dish towels? Barren land.

The boy set out upon the road again.

2) Intestate universe. Desolate country. Gray snow. (Adjective) (noun).

The boy lay skeletal (preposition) cold earth by raw fire. Unforgiving sepulchering of (adjective, depressing) seasons. Bleak and trackless (place, plural, vague).

That night under pale, syphilitic sky, a heavy rain (verb ending in -ing) the tarp, the boy dreamed of a great feast. (Pronoun, male) ordered roasted (type of food, meat) and heaping mounds of (type of food, starchy) and a side of braised (vegetable, plural).

The waiter brought him applesauce.

Cold and barren (place, unfathomable) of endless rotted (adjective) autistic night.

The boy set out upon the road again.

3) (Protagonist) (past-tense verb) down to the motionless stream. An alien in a coagulate land of aphasic lucidity. (dependent clause, indecipherable). Embroiled casuistry of inclement jawline. (Post-Faulkner modernist jibber-jabber). Ash-covered water in finigul commiseration with man’s despair. (Musical number).

He rose and looked out at the (adjective, elegiac) and (adjective, depressing) and (adjective, archaic) and (adjective, inscrutable) (coordinating conjunction) melancholic world.

The boy set (preposition) (preposition) the (noun) (adverb)