Monday, June 11, 2012

The Road

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a tough read. It takes away all the action, oddity, and adventure that most post-apocalyptic novels deliver, and leaves in just the bleakness. And yet, it's really about more than that; it's about how, when everything else is gone, what you have left is your love for people, and how that alone is enough to live for.

It's the story of a father and his son, trying to survive in the ashes of our civilization. Something happened, and civilization ended, and most people just died. Most of the survivors have joined murderous gangs or insane cults. The father and his son are just traveling through the remains of our civilization. They are, they remind themselves, "The Good Guys", who "carry the flame". They struggle to find food and shelter, day after day. The son was born after the end of civilization; he has only ever known this world, and has spent his entire life only in the company of his parents. Through this hopeless, dangerous, terrible world, they keep each other going, and each is the reason the other keeps going.

I found this novel hard to put down. I read most of it today, and I don't often read most of a novel in a day. I've got a presentation to prepare for (the first presentation I'll be giving on my PhD topic), and I should have been spending my evening doing that, but instead I just read. It's a novel I've heard about often, and have been warned about the overwhelming bleakness of it, and how depressing it is to read, but that's not what I got from this book. To me, it was more about the bonds of family, and the love of a parent for their children. It's a harrowing, but it reminds you of what is important in life.

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