Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Apocalypse, Unreadable

Sunday was a beautiful day, and The Pit and I took full advantage of the nice weather, walking about a mile down to the bookstore, buying a couple of books, and then sitting in the park and reading them.

Unfortunately, one of my selections happened to be The Road, a post-apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarthy. I should have known better than to pick up a Pulitzer Prize winner, because I sensed within the first few pages that I was going to hate it.* I finished it just now, and sadly, I still think that was $14.95 wasted.

It's not like I haven't read a fair selection of post-apocalyptic stories in my life. The Pit likes to joke that they are my favorite form of fiction, and he's not too far off. I've recently re-read Dies the Fire, The Stand, and The Postman, which are all significantly more interesting versions of the end of the world than The Road. The setting was both horribly bleak and completely unexplained, the main character thoroughly miserable, and nothing ever really happened, even at the very end of the novel. I just don't understand the point.

And reading it, I'm doubly sad for Jeffery Harrell, who at one time wrote an excellent blog called Shape of Days. The blog is no longer online, but several years ago, Jeffery posted about half of a novel he had written. It was a great post-apocalyptic story, really engrossing, with interesting characters and an exciting plot. He never finished it, because The Road came out at the same time he was shopping it to publishers, and nobody wanted another story of the same basic genre. What a waste, that such a terrible book could ruin a really great writer's chance to publish a far superior story.

All in all, it's a good thing I also grabbed a new Terry Pratchett novel while we were at the bookstore...I can't think of a better way to rid myself of the unrelenting dreariness that was The Road.

* I don't always hate books that the literati love...just most of the time.


  1. the Stand is an excellent book. I am otherwise in the dark about your choice of authors.

  2. have you read the year of the flood by margaret atwood? i've heard it described as post-apocalyptic. heard an interview with atwood on npr a couple weeks ago and have been thinking about reading it.

  3. Sorry Shara, I'm way late with this response...but I haven't actually read anything by Margaret Atwood. I've heard good things about The Handmaid's Tale though. Of course, that book also won an award, so I would probably hate it.

  4. Anybody know what happened to Jeffery Harrell? I loved his blog, he should be a speechwriter for some Republican, and he's one of the very few internet people I miss.

  5. EM, I don't know for sure, but I think this is his twitter feed:

    And I know what you mean, I wish he was still blogging.