Cormac McCarthy’s The Road might be one of the most powerful books I’ve read in a while. It takes place in a world where an (never explained) apocalyptic event has left our planet uninhabitable with a constant cloud of ash and the skeletal remains for mankind and beasts overtaking the landscape.
In this lawless world, ethics and human kindness is hard to come by. Everyone is constantly on the move and in hiding. Those who can’t defend themselves are killed for food or taken hostage as slaves. Every possession while essential for survival is also a burden.
The Road takes us along on the journey of a man and his son, born into this new world with no memories of the old and now about 10 or 11 years of age. A father’s struggle to provide protection, safety and food where none is readily available. In the face of complete despair what keeps us going forward? To place one foot in front of the other. Where does the will to survive come from when survival can mean nothing but more pain, fear and devastation? How can there be room for hope, religion, and decency when there is no room left for life?
I was moved deeply as I found myself lost in this world of nothingness. Years ago I wrote that our planet’s immune system will reject us. Spit us out. Let us all die. And in due time it will start over. After all, what we have little of and the planet has in abundance is time.
In The Road, it seems our time on this planet has come to an end. And in the twilight of human existence, we are faced with the worst and also the best of what make us human and humane. The weight of The Road lingers.