This is a taut moving beautifully realised post-apocalypse narrative. The beauty of it ameliorates the subject. It is a tale filled with almost unbearable tension, a tiny thin thread of hope throughout. Someone wrote that it is not particularly American, but I thought it very American, almost at times a touch too cowboyish in parts. But looking back now I see no flaws in this now. At first I thought: this is a searing tale right up until the end but McCarthy wandered off into Hollywood territory with an (almost) all’s wells that ends well roundup, even in a post-apocalyptic hell on earth, and this is some hell on earth.. At first I thought: has McCarthy snatched literary defeat from the jaws of victory? Did he dismantle 300 odd pages of narrative perfection ..Does he want to wipe the slate clean? I thought: maybe it’s his irony on the myth, ingrained it seems in the American psyche, the good guys and bad guys stuff ..but I realise, thinking again, I was wrong.
The Road is too spare and taut for happy endings. It does end better than it could have … It doesn’t matter that the hope comes from and to the boy..there is much left of the road still to go for him..
I put it alongside the bittersweet end to Nam Le’s The Boat…Both tales are about that thin thread of human hope in so much despair. Even if at times I find myself asking why does Cormac McCarthy gives us this cowboy stuff every now and again…..Maybe, I wanted to say: I would prefer a bet each way on human nature…….but looking again I realised it is the hope in that upside-down burned-out world throughtout, the tiny impossibly thin thread of it, so beautifully captured and centred in the boy, that tense last thread that truly resonated with me throughout the telling of the tale, and it still resonates with me long after I finished reading..