Over recent flights back and forth across the country, I read–yet again–McCarthy’s The Road. So much has been written about it and about McCarthy that I don’t know that I have anything new to say about it except this: it was prescient.
The narrative is (hopefully) familiar to you. The setting is post-apocalyptic. The world has been blasted by horror. What that horror was McCarthy never tells us. But it was formidable, nightmarish, and perhaps incapable of reconciling. Trees are blown into kindling or blasted shapes. The few remaining people are reduced to scavengers, hunters, and often cannibals. Rape is normal. Starvation is rampant. Buildings are decimated. Money is no more. Man has become bestial. Well, most have. But some “good guys,” those who carry the fire, a few of them, remain. But they’re outnumbered by the enemies of goodness.
The father and son and their fire remain. And they sacrifice for one another. Their love is unlike anything I have ever read in literature. It is the one novel I cannot get through without weeping. If ever there was familial love in literature, this is it. (And yes, I, too, relish Shakespeare’s Lear.)
How was the novel prescient? Here are some ways:
- It showed a world where man is stripped of luxury.
- It showed man’s lust for destruction.
- It showed man’s inescapable need for love.
- It showed man’s insatiable appetite for war.
- It showed that war is both necesssary and tragic.
- It showed man’s problem is his own nature.
- It showed man’s hatred of God and his simultaneous longing for God’s providence.
- It showed man’s deep longing for beauty.
- It showed man’s longing for redemption.
- It showed man’s endurance of evil for the sake of love.
If I were on the proverbial island and could take only ten books, this would be in the top five. And two of the others on that list would be from McCarthy, too. McCarthy saw where we were headed and has written it out for all who will attend, and he accomplished it –in all its horror and beauty–in The Road.
2 thoughts on “One of My Favorite Novels”
“The Road” book sounds good…I will probably read it.
(It’s not Shakespeare! 😁)
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