I’m currently reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I’m about half-way through. I have to say that so far this novel (which come on, you have to admit) qualifies as science fiction, regardless of the fact that Michael Chabon doesn’t want to admit the truth. That it’s science fiction is a compliment, of course, as science fiction is that last literature of ideas whereas contemporary fiction is about modern life and, frankly, not very interesting for those living modern lives.
But I digress, The Road is gut wrenching and heartbreakingly sad. It’s generally known that it takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where unknown catastrophe (likely full scale nuclear war, but no why) has decimated the Earth and humanity. The Road’s story is that of a father and son traveling to find a better place to be, a place where it is there might be a possible chance. The desolation is immense, the trials horrifying. I can think of no other novel that depicts the dire nature of such a world in a way so realistically portrays the horror of an apocalypse. There is nothing to hold on to, nothing to grab, there’s no food, no animals, no society. Most humans have been reduced to atavistic primitives. Cannibalism runs rampant. But the father and son hold on to each other – an almost invisible spark of love in a world gone away, a last remnant of humanity.
The Road pulls at the heart but also shows just how much we depend on our environment, and it is worth considering. George Monbiot has much more to say on the relation of The Road to human apathy and environmentalism.
To me though, The Road, entangles my soul and heart as a father and envision myself in the same situation with my son. To me that struggle the love of a father for son and the ends to which a parent will go to care for a child, the abyssal fears we face on a daily basis in that struggle to raise our sons.