The Road
Cormac McCarthy, 2006

I recently was asked what my take on The Road was, and I found that I was able to give a much more succinct answer than I did in my long-winded previous article on the subject. Here it is:

The Road really highlights the divide between the "faith-based" and "reality-based" communities that became a big political meme back around the 2004 election. The Cold War nuclear war fiction I've read was reality-based no matter which side it was on: authors who considered nuclear war unacceptable portrayed it as such (in On the Beach and Level 7, for instance, everybody dies, and in The Day After, everyone's going to), while those who considered it acceptable portrayed it as such (in Alas, Babylon and Tomorrow!, it's unpleasant for those who perish but a net positive for the survivors). The Road, however, is faith-based nuclear war fiction. The entire world is turned to cinders, nothing is left except for a handful of cannibals stumbling around in the swirling ash... but that's okay, because God lives on in the souls of little children. Unlike in those earlier works, here the nuclear war is divorced from a specific geopolitical context and becomes part of a theological treatise — a comforting one to some, though the very fact that it is comforting to some scares me to death — rather than part of an indirect memo to the commander-in-chief.

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