Apocalypse Now: 'The Road'

Ransom Riggs

It's not often that a Pulitzer-winning novel's plot synopsis reads like that of a George Romero zombie flick. It's also not often that I buy a book in an airport paperback shop and have finished reading it by the time I get off the plane. But such is the case with Cormac McCarthy's strange, profound and unputdownable The Road.

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, they will find there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food -- and each other.

If that sounds like Dawn of the Dead meets Mad Max, with perhaps a little Faulkner and Waiting for Godot mixed in for flavor, you're on the right track. But it's much more than that -- a kind of episodic, long-form prose poem, really -- though with rumors of a movie adaptation in the works, we'll be crossing our fingers that it doesn't pay too much homage to the schlocky sources from which the story borrows so liberally. (In other words: check it out!) Thanks to Chris Higgins and Win Butler for the recommendation.