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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Review: The Road

I finally tried reading The Road again, this time keeping in mind that it was one of the inspirations for The Last of Us. It's a surprisingly short novel, but once I thought about the purpose of the novel it made sense that it had to be short.

The entire novel is written as a series of vignettes. Every sentence is short, and each vignette is meant to contribute to a specific mood. The setting is the aftermath of an environmental catastrophe that's apparently irredeemable,  and the plot, such as it were, revolves around a father and son traveling south in search of... something.

Much has been written about the relationship between father and son in this novel, but for me, it all rings false. The conversations I've had with my own children have never shied away from difficult truths or attempts to maintain the innocence of the children, and I cannot imagine behaving the way the father in the novel does to his children.

The reaction of society in this post-apocalyptic world is also uniquely American. There's a strong sense of "every man for himself" and the assumption that everyone you meet is evil, which of course turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Other cultures novels depict teamwork and strong attempts to rebuild society and civilization. I definitely much prefer David Brin's The Postman over McCarthy's vision. Go read that one instead!

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