|"What about the little boy?"|
Cormac McCarthy, author of the seminal Western novel Blood Meridian, has produced an achingly haunted view of post-apocalyptic America with The Road. Unlike most in this crowded subgenre of science fiction, however, McCarthy does not tackle the events leading up to the event. He does not call for political change or drub us with a wake up call to some evil occurring in our midst. No, McCarthy instead tells of the pain and hardship that faces the survivors. He tells a story of humanity and it's struggles, of suffering and death and survival. The story of mankind.
The Road tells the story of an unnamed man and his son, known only as the boy. It is the story of the struggle of everyman. The man's struggle to survive and the reality that the only possible way to truly survive is through your children. And, of course, mans indomitable will to allow for that.
The Road is stunning in its stilted and harsh prose, nigh unparalleled in its painting of the bleakest of canvases. This is science fiction to the core, but also undeniably literature. While I appreciate all these things, to be wholly forthcoming, I did not enjoy this book at all.
Yet I was moved. I remain haunted. It was an experience I will never forget.
This book may be overlooked by SF fans because it was released as literature and not as a genre book. This would be a tragedy; both for the book and its success, and for the fans who missed out on this truly memorable experience.
Though many copies were printed of the first edition, a new Cormac McCarthy novel is always an event for collectors. The Road belongs in every science fiction collection. It's very hard to put into context so recent a book, but I believe it stands alongside A Canticle For Liebowitz, Alas, Babylon, and Lucifer's Hammer as the cream of this subgenre.
Firsts of The Road will undoubtedly rise in value, despite the relatively large print run. McCarthy is never a bad investment.