Cormac McCarthy, The Road (New York: Vintage Books, 2006), 287pp.
Cormac McCarthy (b. 1933) won a Pulitzer Prize for this best selling novel about a nameless father and son who roam a post-apocalypse world pushing a grocery cart that has a motorcycle mirror clamped to its handle. A tarp and a pistol are their only protection. They're traveling south toward the coast for warmth — "filthy, ragged, and hopeless," although it's not at all clear what they could possibly do once they get there. This is a journey with a destination but no apparent purpose. We infer that they are some of the very few survivors of an unprecedented global catastrophe that has destroyed almost all life of any kind; we only learn that the clocks stopped at 1:17. The only thing that moves is the ash that's blanketed the world and that blows in the wind, the cold rain and the dirty snow. Their journey is one of death, darkness, and desolation. They are rightly paranoid of every other human being. Shriveled corpses, abandoned houses, and the remains of cannibalism are their daily lot. It's a colorless world where, says the father in his clipped prose, "the frailty of everything revealed at last." But it's still a world of deep love between the protective father and the innocent and apprehensive young son: "each the other's world entire." No, he assures the anxious son, they would not eat people. Yes, they are "the good guys." And by all means, he exhorts his son, do all you can to "carry the fire" in your heart.