In Albuquerque Dad said I was talking too much. He suggested I get a nice New Mexico-based novel to read and pulled over at Barnes and Noble. Whenever I walk into a bookstore an overwhelming wave quiets me -- so many books to read and things to learn and not enough life to take it all in. I'm so behind!
The nice woman at the customer service desk pointed me to a bin of local authors. She suggested "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. I ended up getting it because being a paperback it was the only one Dad would offer to buy me. And the cover said "Winner of the Pulitzer Prize."
I started reading, guessing that it might tell a story of the harsh realities of border crossings and the desperation of illegal immigration. A few pages in I realized it was a post-apocalyptic novel. New for me. Actually it turned out to be the bleakest and most brutal book I've ever read. But it read like poetry, like I thought Faulkner would. It made me never want to write another word because I could never construct such lyrical, abstract phrases.
I finished it in two days. It was the most hideous, hopeless story I'd ever read, and I couldn't stop thinking about it as I walked through the flaming golden Aspens in the Santa Fe Forest. But it was incredibly tender and touching in its rendering of a father and son relationship -- the love and the purity of it.
What if the world ended, but even a decade later some wretched souls survived? No trees. No birds. Nothing to eat or wear. Only dried corpses and ruined cities. Everywhere is cold and gray and the ashy air almost unbreathable. The blank-faced living envy the dead. "Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave," McCarthy writes.
The man tries to protect the boy from the deranged cults, violence and cannibalism that reign. "Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said. You might want to think about that.You forget some things, dont you?
Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget."
If you think you can handle it, read it. Somehow it's beautiful.