09 April, 2008

The end is nigh

Sped through Cormac McCarthy's The road in the plane back from Lisbon and absolutely loved it. It's a post-apocalyptic novel about a father and son travelling through a devastated landscape in which unburied corpses litter the roads and bands of cannibals roam in search of humans to kill and eat. The language is beautiful: the desolation and the dead landscape are wonderfully evoked, and at times it reminded me of Samuel Beckett, particularly the conversation they have with a blind old man, who speaks like a strange prophet.

It's also really scary, more scary than any book I've read for a long time. Two passages actually made me shudder with fright. I'm not sure quite why I had such a strong reaction. I suppose because the world depicted is both horribly alien and completely familiar: everywhere they go the father and son find traces of our own world - an unopened can of Coke, supermarkets and garages, and a complete train sitting in a siding - but the world around them is completely dead, no sun, no animals, no plants, no food except in the few tins they can scavenge. The two very horrible and frightening bits seem particularly upsetting in that context. [19]

No comments: