Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize novel “The Road” is a masterpiece of dystopian fiction. The apocalypse that has left the world burnt and ashen, devoid of wildlife and civilization, is unspecified. This is a story about the will to survive.
The writing is spare, the dialogue between father and son often repetitive. The young boy is gripped by fear, his responses often limited to ”I’m scared” and “Okay”. It is winter and the elements are brutal. They are trying to walk to the West Coast along a road, although there is little hope that conditions will improve there. The plot is the day-to-day chore of trying to exist. Life is stripped to the bone: water, food and warmth. The dystopian element is the difference standards for survival. The boy and his father are the “good guys” and they try to avoid those who would enslave and kill them for what residual goods they may have left from civilization or as a source of meat. The father is responsible for his son’s life, so he is unsympathetic to the conditions of others who he distrusts. The boy, as a child, is all that is left of humanity. There is no religious or philosophical element to the story. It would detract. The reader is a third wheel on the trip, equally gripped by the will to survive. For those who wish to write, this book is a master lesson in less is more. It is hard to stop turning the pages.
The only criticism I have is that I would have preferred another ending. This is a personal preference and you may feel differently.
If you have not read this book, it is a must read.