Literary Horror (Post-Apocalyptic): Book Annotation 3

The Road by Cormac McCarthy:

I have some unpopular opinions about this book, so it’s a good thing that it’s the absolute end of the semester, no one reads my blog, and that I was late the day we talked about it. It seems that every person I know that reads literary fiction, or even just contemporary fiction, absolutely loves Cormac McCarthy. I can’t speak for his other novels, but I can say with a good deal of certainty that reading The Road was one of my most unpleasant reading experiences in recent memory.

Let me talk about a few things that I did like about the book: There was definitely a smack of minimalism that I can appreciate on a deeper level. By not giving the characters names (he refers to them as “the man/father” and “the boy/son”, he reinforces that in his world, these two could be anybody, they could be you. McCarthy’s prose itself is eloquent and thought-provoking; he’s a good writer.

I’m no stranger to disturbing literature. In fact, I seek it out frequently. My summer reading list was comprised entirely of banned books and novels from “most disturbing” book lists. I like reading things that make me uncomfortable, or sad, or even nauseated at times. What I don’t like doing is spending 250+ pages in absolute, utter despair. Grey, bleak desolation that doesn’t lighten, doesn’t end, but is peppered with some of the most gut-churning and heart-breaking moments you can imagine.

In my opinion, that in itself doesn’t make it a good story. And maybe something doesn’t need to be a good story to be great literature. After all, it won a Pulitzer prize and is widely regarded to be one of the best novels of the decade. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Moving on.


In a post-apocalyptic world– one without a name, one in which nothing green grows and any new life is instantly snuffed out–a man and a boy, also without names, struggle to make it through the winter. Traveling a grey, broken highway beneath a grey, sunless sky, they head to the sea in search of food, a better climate, and perhaps other people like themselves. For they are seemingly the only two “good” people left on Earth, carrying the torch of humanity within themselves as they are faced time and again with the inhumane.


Fans of highly stylistic and atmospheric writing would definitely be captivated by McCarthy’s writing in this novel. Post-apocalyptic fiction seems to be increasingly popular, as it deals with a world that seems only a few steps from our own. Elements of travel, horror, suspense, and family themes are interwoven in a way that could potentially appeal to many.

Read Alikes:

The Reapers Are the Angelsby Alden Bell

Blindness by Jose Saramago

Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks


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