This is a story about what is most important in life: love, our duty of care for the next generation, and the importance of a stable, functioning state. It is also about the realities of life: how fear drives people apart; how cruel we can be. The last page of this novel is sublime, wrapping up the bleakest of portraits into a timeless image of hope.
McCarthy’s writing is pared down, dispassionate, brutal. It sets the reader firmly in the thorny, scorched environment that the characters travel through, pushing a shopping trolley laden with basic necessities. It makes us watch them objectively and yet also pulls us towards them, makes us deeply sympathetic to their plight. This is as true of ‘The Road’ as it is of the ‘Border Trilogy’. Cormac McCarthy is the master of setting.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy Picador, 307 pp, £7.99, 2009, ISBN 978-0-330-46846-6