Barren. The story, the landscape, the characters, the diction, the punctuation, the road.
In this post apocalyptic tale everything is bleak and hopeless. Not sure what has happened to America to turn it into this toxic wasteland where the main characters are nameless and cows are extinct. This demonstrates that there is no need for explanation or labels. Everything is futile. But I really would like to know what caused the ash, however irrelevant.
A simple tale about two simple people travelling along a road. There is no food or warmth or shelter, they meet, fleetingly, a few potentially dangerous or vulnerable people doing the typical things folk do for survival. There is nothing original in this story.
In keeping with the simplistic theme McCarthy writes in a minimalist style, virtually no punctuation and lots of short sentences. So much so, that looking at a page is like looking at a poem, which is reinforced with the use of repetition of words, phrases and speech patterns. Once I became familiar with the style it was an easy read, no complex themes that I could decipher and a straightforward journey along the road. I was surprised - but pleased - that there were few internal monologues nor deep thoughts that a book like this tends to include. What kept me hooked was wondering if the man and his son would stay together and keep each other safe, which was the motivation for each of them. The simplicity is oddly refreshing.
This book is low on action, especially for a survival science fiction type story, but high on depressing, gloomy futility. Scarily prophetic. Dark fiction at its best.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2006