Posted on August 14, 2008 by CountessZ
--The Road by Cormac McCarthy is by far one of the most arresting novels I have ever read. On the surface, it is a dystopian novel about a very bleak future and the dark underbelly of survival in a true post-apocalyptic environment. But at its heart, it is the story of a man trying to be a “good” father under impossible circumstances.
How this father and his tender son got where they are, and what happened to bring about such a dire future, is almost irrelevant. In fact, we receive only disjointed and incomplete clues about what may have happened via the father’s feverish dreams and in rare moments when he allows himself to remember. And even then””the memories, the dreams””they are all personal, void of any social or political concerns.
What we do know quite clearly is that there was fire””fire so intense and so fierce and so engulfing that it literally scorched its way across the land, leaving everything in its wake stark, brittle, and hostile. Ash falls from the sky like snow, obscuring the sun. Night is so thick that it cannot be penetrated. Even the feeble fires they build for warmth seem to be struggling against the oppressive weight of the blackness. Nothing has gone untouched, and you realize rather quickly that nothing will ever grow here again. In short, this is a desperate world.
The entire thrust of the story is the attempt of this father and son to survive by migrating south to escape the cold. It is a grueling journey. And what are they surviving to? That is the unspoken question littered across each page. The road always creates more questions than it answers.
In an earlier post this summer where I discussed my current dystopian reading habits, Kaizerin left an amusing and thought-provoking comment in which she paraphrased a quote made by Stephen King. Essentially, he said, the reason people like stories about the end of the world is because they imagine they will be...