Wednesday, June 06, 2007

James Wood on Cormac McCarthy (in The New Republic)

James Wood's long and quite insightful analysis of Cormac McCarthy's The Road appears in the May 21 issue of The New Republic. It's definitely worth reading.

Here's how it starts:

Getting to the End
by James Wood
Post date 05.18.07 | Issue date 05.21.07

IN ADDITION TO the 9/11 novel, and the 9/11 novel that is pretending not to be a 9/11 novel, an old genre has been re-awakened by new fears: the post-apocalyptic novel (which may well be, in fact, the 9/11 novel pretending not to be one). The possibility that familiar, habitual existence might be so disrupted within the next hundred years that crops will fail, warm places will turn into deserts, and species will become extinct--that areas of the earth may become uninhabitable--holds and horrifies the contemporary imagination. This fear may not be as present, acute, or knife-edged as the fear of nuclear annihilation that produced novels such as A Canticle for Leibowitz and On the Beach and movies such as Fail Safe and The Day After, but it is more fatalistic and in its way more horrible, precisely because the catastrophe that climate change imagines may be inevitable and incorrigible. And the temporal reprieve, the deferral of the worst to later generations, may not be any consolation at all. It may actually increase the fear: are you more agonizingly afraid of something that will happen to yourself or of something that will happen to your children?...

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