I’m going out on a limb recommending this one.
I’ve promised here only to review books I love, and no one can love The Road. It’s grim. I had bad dreams for a week.
It’s grim in the way only Cormac McCarthy can be with his spare dialogue and relentlessly bleak landscapes. The cover is of a grey road heading into the grey distance under grey skies and surrounded by dead trees, cold and hostile. This is the book.
Here’s the opening:
When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world.
It doesn’t get any cheerier.
But I suggest it as a good read for book clubs because sometimes a bit of raw dystopia is a change from character-full, plot-twisty, complicated, clever books. On the face of it, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is not complicated. The complications are all in the subtext. You can analyse the subtext for hours but you won’t find any answers in the book, and this is why I think it opens up some provoking discussions. You just need to ask two questions and the debate will outlast the wine and cheese: What do you think happened? What will happen?
All the stuff has happened in the past and you are confronted with the here and now, a man and a boy walking down a road in the fallout. It feels utterly, utterly hopeless. And yet, they walk.
That’s about it.
Don’t read it if you’re feeling miserable.