A barren wasteland, a road, and two people. A man and a boy. Around them, a nuclear winter in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The snow is grey with the fallen ash, the towns are empty and lifeless, scavenged years ago, food is scarce, people eat what they can. The man has two bullets in his revolver, his last two. He coughs blood, poisoned by the radiation, tries to hide it from the boy. And the boy, well, he is just a boy. He is scared, cold, hungry. They travel south, to try to find some warm promised land, avoiding being seen, always walking the road. But other people walk the road. Raiders, cannibal cults that breed slaves, the only survivors of the cataclysm. It seems that a man and his boy are out of place in this reality. They hide, walking the road.
After a while he turned and looked at the man. His face in the small light streaked with black from the rain like some old world thespian. Can I ask you something? he said.
Yes. Of course.
Are we going to die?
Sometime. Not now.
And we're still going south.
So we'll be warm.
Nothing. Just okay.
Go to sleep.
I'm going to blow out the lamp. Is that okay?
Yes. That's okay.
And then later in the darkness: Can I ask you something?
Yes. Of course you can.
What would you do if I died?
If you died I would want to die too.
So you could be with me?
Yes. So I could be with you.
He lay listening to the water drip in the woods. Bedrock, this. The cold and the silence. The ashes of the late world carried on the bleak and temporal winds to and fro in the void. Carried forth and scattered and carried forth again. Everything uncoupled from its shoring. Unsupported in the ashen air. Sustained by a breath, trembling and brief. If only my heart were stone.
I was first interested in this book when I read the synopsis. I am quite fond of post-apocalyptic stories, and this one seemed to not about the usual Mad Max type hero. It was about a father and his son, struggling to survive in a world that had long lost all humanity. I like the fact that some details are not mentioned, the names of the characters, the places the go through, what happened all those years ago. We only know the present, and we share with them the fear of meeting someone in the Road, of running out of food, of dying.
The writing is dense and difficult to read, transmitting an atmosphere that tells us what comes after the apocalypse. Nevertheless, it is quite remarkable; no surprise it won last year's Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It is not an easy read, but very rewarding for those who do make it.
There are some extraordinarily violent passages, brutal even, that makes the reader shiver. Recommended!
::.. The Road
::.. The Road
at Book Depository