This is a novel set at some unidentified point in the future when the world has pretty much come to an end. Something, we don’t know what, has brought society down. There is little food and little shelter left, and for our two main protagonists there is always the danger that they might meet someone on the road, someone who might kill them in order to take what little they have, or maybe someone who might kill them in order to eat them. They travel on, this unnamed man and unnamed boy, constantly on the road, moving trying to find something.
In many ways I suppose this is a fairly typical “end of humanity” type book. We are never really told what cause the end of life as we know it, but whatever it was, it was enough to kill off pretty much all of nature too. Even the trees are dead. And it happened long enough ago that the boy remembers nothing of a “normal” life. The man, his father, tells him stories of what it was like before, and offers some hope as to what they might find, one day, but they both know that there isn’t really any hope. All the man has to look forward to is ensuring that his child doesn’t die a horrible death.
As with most of McCarthy’s books the is very little by the way of punctuation. Full stops only, with the odd question mark. Don’t be expecting quotation marks either, so you’ll have to read it carefully to make sure you know who is saying what. So if that sort of thing bothers you then prepare to be annoyed. I’m not sure myself whether it is an unnecessary gimmick, I can see the point of some of it, after all we don’t talk using the rules of grammar and punctuation.
To be honest I was expecting a little more. I love Blood Meridian; this is nowhere near as good. It is still worth reading, it just didn’t grab me as much as that other one did.