Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

A recent “political novel” making the news, and sales — sounds somewhat reminiscent of, among other apocalyptic novels, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower and James Morrow’s This is the Way the World Ends. Review excerpted below — “The Master of Entropy Shows What Could Happen If We Go On” by Joan Mellen:

The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

Nuclear holocaust has reduced the world to ash and rubble. A man and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” trek without purpose down a road to nowhere in death-defying starvation. Along the way, they pass renegades barbecuing their infants. There is no plot to Cormac McCarthy’s harrowing, brilliant new novel, a worthy successor to his masterpiece, Blood Meridian, because human history has drawn to a close.

The Road at times resembles Robinson Crusoe. The man reveals a profusion of ingenuity, siphoning drops of gasoline, digging deep into the burrows of an abandoned survival shelter for precious stores of food, even suturing his own deep, bloody wound inflicted by a sniper….

In The Road, McCarthy has produced the first major post-9/11 novel. He has revealed himself not to be writing an allegory, an abstract story about the consequences of human evil, but a political novel. Ignoring how this holocaust happened – it doesn’t matter – he reveals the likely result of the history we are living, and the politics of accepting passively the premises of a warrior government out of control.

The horrific images of suffering for which McCarthy has long been known have now been enlisted in the service of defiance….

In this Swiftian nightmare, horror proposes its reverse, protecting the soon-to-be “vanished world” as the father cares tenderly for his son….

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