The Eclectic

Time moves in one direction, memory in another. – William Gibson

The Road

Posted by David Leslie on August 23, 2007

A few weeks ago, I was reading a book review for “Last Child in the Woods: Saving out Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” by Richard Louv. The idea is that unless kids experience the joy of the outdoors, they won’t care about protecting it. Plus they are at risk for, well you know, the bad things American kids are at risk for when they don’t get out and play.

So on Daddy and John nights when Jean is at work, John and I have been taking walks at Indian Run Falls park which is near the entrance to my office.

These walks took a deeper turn after reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. First, I found the book after catching the trailer for the new Cohen Brother’s movie based on another McCarthy book, “No country for old men”.

Reading the Wikipedia entry, I saw that McCarthy had set “The Road” in a post-apocalypse world. Given that I’m an avid reader of post-apocalypse and dystopian fiction and the fact that The Road won the 2007 Pulitzer, I had to read it.

The book is stunning in how it expresses the pure love between the father and the son when all else has been stripped from the world. The simple things like rest, shelter, food and safety are not taken for granted in this book. They are things that must be sought after and come with risks.  

The father is not made to be perfect, a yelling ‘man’s man’ nor a fool which tends to be the extremes that fathers in our culture are viewed. He has only one purpose in life, to protect his child.

You won’t find long passages of dialog expounding on life or whatnot. You will find something so basic and pure that you’ll be haunted by it.

I can give no higher praise than this: I’ve never cried while reading a book. Gotten upset and spooked but never cried. At the end of this book, knowing already the ending from the Wikipedia, I still cried.

So now when I take these walks with John, I find myself appreciating our relationship, our safety, our home, and our food. I think about the parents in places like Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq who right now live “The Road”. Maybe not in a post-apocalyptic world as McCarthy’s with ash and cannibals but a world where there is a dark fear in doing the simple things of life and yet still the light of hope that a child’s heart can bring into that darkness.

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