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Excruciating. This book is absolutely excruciating . . . and beautiful and horrible. It is the story of a father and a son in a post-apocalyptic ashen winter. The author never tells us what happened. Did someone bomb us? Was it some other catastrophic event? We never know, and it doesn't really matter. We never even learn the father or the son's name. They are "the man" and "the boy" throughout the novel, which contributes to how much they could be you and me.
The story is about life, what sustains it, why it continues. The man and boy travel the road looking for food, trying not to be killed for food themselves. They try to find other "good guys" even as the son asks his father over and over if they are still the good guys. The father tells his son they must go on because they carry the flame. Like everything else in the book, that is never explained fully, except to imply that it is the flame of hope, of goodness, of humanity.
I have not cried in that rocking sort of a way in quite a long time as I did near the end of reading this book. I put the book down and went to hold my son. I am not sure if I can recommend it to you because it was so painful, but isn't that what we want art to be - at least sometimes? We want it to rock us and challenge us and linger with images that inform our passions and beliefs. You cannot feel the same about nuclear weapons or war or mankind after you have completed this novel. The Road by Cormac McCarthy.