Cormac McCarthy — The Road
A great writer offs almost everyone in a post-apocalyptic masterpiece
Cormac McCarthy’s beautiful prose can make you ache. His characters think and feel deeply, profoundly and inarticulately—and ultimately they die, often violently. With The Road, McCarthy misanthropically kills billions in some unnamed holocaust that seems to combine global war with ?ery environmental destruction. Post-apocalyptic science fiction may seem a strange, daring choice for a literary giant, but McCarthy ennobles the form.
In The Road, his lifelong themes of indigence and exile afflict a wandering father and young son, struggling to stay alive amid “the ashes of the late world.” These two reconnoiter a ruined earth searching for food, warmth and any sign of a caring Creator. They face roving gangs of cannibals who eat children; the father does what it takes to keep his son alive. Fierce father-son love, in fact, centers this brutal book.
The Road should stop those critical snipes at McCarthy as a closet sentimentalist. Warning: Stay away if you’re prone to suicidal ideation or depression. Still, no masterpiece in my memory, except perhaps Nevil Shute’s On the Beach or Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, deals with humanity’s future so hauntingly—or with such terrible clarity.