The Road by Cormac McCarthy - review by Sebastian Shakespeare

Sebastian Shakespeare

Bleak Horizon

The Road


Picador 256pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Cormac McCarthy's last novel, No Country for Old Men, was a humdinger of a thriller and had much in common with a Quentin Tarantino film. The author combined a pared-down prose style with a portrait of a violent and degenerate modern America. If you haven't read it, I urge you to do so. It was a pure adrenalin rush from start to finish and the best thriller I have read for many a moon.

At first glance this novel seems to occupy different terrain. It is a dystopian tale set in the future. In truth, it is just another manifestation of the same morally disturbing vision. How would we cope, psychologically, with the end of the world? Many of us daydream about what it would be like to be among the last survivors on earth and then swiftly banish the notion from our heads as a remote outcome. The Road fleshes out this improbable conceit and evokes the full horror of such a predicament.

The chronology is uncertain from the start. An unnamed man and his son wander across a desolate America after some apocalyptic calamity. Not until page 22 do we get any sense of how much time has passed: ‘in those first few years the roads were peopled with refugees shrouded up

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