Friday, August 8, 2008

Post-Apocolyptic Summer Reading, Part !

The Road
by Cormac McCarthy

I'd always wanted to read a book by Cormac McCarthy. Not sure why. So I chose this one for my summer reading list. I found this book to be well written and a great read, especially if you are feeling a bit too....cheerful.
It tells the story of a father and son, walking along a road across an America in the throes of a nuclear winter. Little is said about the initial catastrophe. It's the results, the dregs of the horror McCarthy shows us here. And the dregs of horror are almost beyond words. Still, he uses his words to take us along with the father and son as they walk towards the coast hoping to find...........something.

It's perpetual winter. Snow falls often, quickly covered with ash. The sun does still rise on this tragedy, but it's a lighter shade of gray than the night, which is colder and darker. As I read this, I was hopeful that they'd reach the sea and there'd be this group of healthy folks, waiting to receive them, living in some sort of a dome city, still getting their mail on time. But as I read, my hopes sagged with theirs. There's not much food around, when you can't grow it. Most people have resorted to cannabilism. They are starving. At every town, they have to cautiously poke through old stores and houses, looted long ago, looking for a scrap of food, a useful tool or something they can use to keep warm. Or some fuel.

The ironic "highlight" to me is the moment they uncover a "fallout shelter" as we used to call them in my town back in the 60's. Forcing the lock, they descend into a world reminiscent of the magic cave in Aladdin. Clothes, fuel and a huge stock of canned goods. Peaches, pears, tomatoes, okrah (yuck on the last one!) After all the lack of color, the dark gray, I can imagine the colors. I can almost taste the canned peaches as the joice runs down my chin. I guess the irony for me is that when I was young, we were all instructed to build these structures and stock them in case the Russians attacked us. In this book, the shelter never gets used by it's creators. It serves only to 'save' the father and son who wonder if their existence is worse than death. Well, I guess I'd better get canning. All those tomatoes I'm about to "put up" should see me through even the harshest nuclear winter, dontcha think?


Suzy said...

I think you need to read a little Terry Pratchett.

I have read a few post-Apocalypse books, and I simply can't go there. Maybe I am a little like an ostrich, head in the sand and all that.

A few of us decided last week, that should we need to, we could move to Rock Island and grow rutabagas for survival.

poodledoc said...

Well, I did read Prodicgal Summer a few weeks ago and loved it! Terry Pratchet is enjoyable. Lately, I've been interested in people's "dark night journeys". Not in an obsessive way, but in a way where I'm trying to understand where I've been in my life, spiritually. If McCain should win, I'm thinking about Newfoundland. Don't know how well tomatoes grow up there.....