Post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction is not something I usually enjoy, and I didn’t actually “enjoy” The Road, but the writing is so elegant and beautiful that I wasn’t able to set it down. One long narrative without chapter breaks, a man and his young son wandering through a mostly depopulated world, with no hope of future happiness, always at risk of being captured by roving gangs of men who would not hesitate to kill and eat a child in front of its parents. So enjoyment is no part of this novel; it is all fear and misery, but also the love between a father and his son, strained often by circumstances; and also a fading longing for the past.

I honestly don’t know what the critical reception was for this novel, but I see it as a brilliant work, a novella that is as close to pure art as any I have read; clean, spare, and deliberate in every paragraph, and with language that is rich with words borrowed from the countries of the North Sea, and sometimes a rhythmic quality, as if McCarthy were reciting an epic.

Well, maybe that is too much. But it is lucid and unpretentious writing, and worth some study.



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