This was another book that took two tries to get through, not because of some overbearing late fees but because of an overbearing reputation. I’ve read No Country for Old Men, laugh riot that was, and had the reputation of The Road precede it. The warning I got was that it was the most depressing book I’d ever read, and I could just never get in the mood for that. I read the first fifty pages and agreed that was the direction it seemed to be going in.
Reading this time, my impressions were different. Is this maturity? I hope not, I’ve tried to stave off that wretched bastard for almost twenty-five years, but I think I “got” the book, in as much as you can get genius. I am happy to report that this is not the most depressing book ever. It is no laugh riot either, but McCarthy’s books aren’t intended to be, The Road trades moments of comic relief for moments of respite. The environment is constantly threatening to the father and son so any moment in the story that takes us out of that environment, even for just a few pages, is as welcome a relief for the reader as it is for the characters.
This is a book you make an emotional investment in. The father and son are carrying the fire; they are the good guys, which they tell each other so often that it begins to lose meaning. In the post apocalypse everyone is the bad guy to somebody else, that’s just the nature of a world where you can’t trust anyone and are constantly looking over your shoulder. That is why the boy and father as the central characters are so affecting; there is nobody else for the man, but the boy.