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The Road - Book of the Month

by Cormac McCarthy

Reading THE ROAD should remind us how beautiful and vulnerable our planet is, how much we have to lose and how fragile is our grasp on it.
A man and his young son struggle for survival in the bitter world of a nuclear winter. They are following a road that leads through the worst landscape it is possible to imagine, where humanity is a distant concept. It is a monochrome deathscape where humans are all that has survived; neither fish nor fowl, animal, vegetable nor insect is living; all water is poisoned; and the grass and trees are brittle and dead. Worst of all are the piercing cold, the gales and storms of rain and hail. Bands of cannibals hunt the living and all-but-dead and farm children for food.
It takes the poetry of McCarthy’s prose to imagine the bleakness of this world and the terror of the cities where “the soft black talc blew through the streets like squid ink uncoiling along a sea floor and the cold crept down and the dark came early and the scavengers passing down the steep canyons with their torches trod silky holes in the drifted ash that closed behind them silently as eyes.”
McCarthy handles the whole bitter irony of the situation lightly: in a world destroyed by the lust for energy resources, the one shop not sacked by looters is the electronics shop, where the goods are lined up untouched on the shelves.
There are also some heart-breakingly poignant moments. At one point, the man stands in the burnt-out shell of a library and rages at the lies that were arranged in their thousands on the shelves and ponders that the value of the smallest thing is predicated on a world to come. It surprised him “that the space which these things occupied was itself an expectation”.
Although it gave me nightmares, I’d urge anyone to read this brilliant book.

It is presently in hardback but to win a copy, go to our competition page.


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