Post-apocalyptic

I’m reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road right now, and — people read this sort of thing for fun?? I mean, I’m glad I’m reading it, it’s great and all, but I’m more than a little freaked out. I saw the post-apocalyptic movie I am Legend not too long ago, and I’m still recovering from that. I’ll admit I scoot back to bed in a hurry at night, thinking about those horrible zombie monster things. At least that movie didn’t give me nightmares; now we’ll see if this book does.

After this, I’m reading something full of sweetness and light.

24 Comments

Filed under Books, Fiction

24 responses to “Post-apocalyptic

  1. Yes, I do read this sort of thing for fun (although I haven’t read McCarthy. I read I AM LEGEND, have yet to see the movie, because I can’t quite get over my disappointment that the movie is zombies — which I’ve always loved in every other portrayal of them — and not vampires — my all-time favorite horror story characters. Gee. I sound REALLY sick, don’t I?), although I have often wondered why on earth I’ve always thought it was “fun” to be scared out of my wits.

  2. musingsfromthesofa

    I saw I Am Legend and it was relentlessly depressing. I’ve got The Road lined up, I just can’t quite face it…

  3. I loved “The Road.” As for “I am Legend,” I’ve only read the book, which I didn’t like all that much, so I’m not going to see the movie any time soon. I think I’ll just wait for it to be on TV.

  4. I thought “The Road” was brilliantly written but depressing as hell.

  5. I was in awe of “The Road” but I can’t say I loved it. I read it as quickly as possible so as to get out of that world that he created so brilliantly. It’s an amazing, disturbing and worringly convincing book.

  6. ‘The Road’ is not really for me, excellent as it no doubt is. But I’ll be very interested in your review of it, Dorothy!

  7. verbivore

    I enjoyed the road, mostly because McCarthy’s writing was so well done. For some strange reason the story itself didn’t frighten me as much as I thought it would, but maybe I am overly optimistic and just couldn’t imagine the world ever getting quite that bad. (I may have had a nightmore or two, however…)

  8. I have been wary of these kinds of books, because they generally leave me with a very lasting impression (and nightmares a long long time after finishing them). But as everybody says The Road is so well written, I might reconsider.

  9. Cam

    I love scary movies, but I just can’t seem to finish scary books. I read most of The Road, skipping some of the chapters towards the end. I just found it too depressing to continue to read it. Reading the last few chapters gave me no hope to go back and read the few chapters I passed over.

  10. I don’t suppose ‘The Road’ is fun or recreational but then so many great books aren’t. They’re something else altogether – thrilling, maybe? Awe-inspiring? Terrifying? Essential? Tis more like reading for your life. :-)

    Btw, I heard recently that The Road is being made into a film starring Viggo Mortensen as the father. A good casting decision methinks.

  11. But don’t you feel relieved when you close the book and can think, gosh, at least my life isn’t that bad? :) I’ve not read The Road yet, but I do enjoy a good post-apocalypse book now and then.

  12. Hmmm. I wasn’t completely pleased with The Road. No Country for Old Men was much better and even more alarming.

  13. I’ll have to read The Road soon, but I may have to sandwich it between some other fluffy books! Maybe you should pick up a Heyer or Pym–that seems about as far away from dystopia you can get! I’m afraid I can’t do zombies. I didn’t realize I am Legend (the book) was actually about vampires. I’ve steered clear one, and I may have to pass on the movie as well. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the book, though. I take it it is a fast read?

  14. I’d heard of The Road being great before, but didn’t know it was post-apocalyptic writing. Makes me less eager to read it, tho it gets such strong recommendations I just might have to.

  15. Post-apocalyptic = possible read
    Zombie story = don’t read

    I really don’t get into zombie/mummy type stories.

    Here’s another off-topic photo for you: Bike Faux Nostalgia

  16. Sure, “The Road” was scary and all, but I was more upset by “Jia,” a novel set in modern-day North Korea. Now that’s a real horror show.

  17. I don’t think this book is for me either. Granted I don’t know if any McCarthy book is really for me. I read All The Pretty Horses and didn’t enjoy it. Looking forward to more of your thoughts on this one.

  18. hepzibah

    I’ve been meaning to read The Road also “just for fun” but now I don’t know :) Keep us updated…

  19. Idon’t agree with comparing The Road to most apocolyptic novels, like say The Stand or Swan Song, etc. With a lot of post-apocolyptic work, there are elements of hope that I don’t feel come across in McCarthy’s work. Um, let me see if I can explain this. In The Road, even in the end, there is very little actually hopeful, very little to make us believe things will get better. There is little food, little drinking water, humans war with one another, death is around every corner. In a book like The Stand, while elements of evil exist, the generousity of the human spirit triumphs and the world itself returns to some form of glory, actually better for the elimination of so many people. Unfortunately, I think McCarthy’s version is probably much more realistic, and that is why it is scarier and more troubling than “genre” post-apocolyptic work.

  20. I just reread my post and wanted to say this wasn’t a direct refute of your post, Dorothy – I meant to say I think there are distinct differences! I hope it came across okay!

  21. Emily — well, what can I say — we have different tastes as far as this is concerned, I suppose. I wonder why scary things are just a bit too scary for me, but other people enjoy them.

    Becky — definitely the two shouldn’t be seen/read close to one another — it’s just too much to take. Give yourself lots of time.

    Brandon — it would have been better for me to see the movie on TV, as it wouldn’t have been quite as scary that way … I loved The Road too, although it was hard to take.

    Yogamum — I agree completely. Brilliant but depressing. I kind of want to post on the book, but that’s really all I have to say!

    Charlotte — yeah, I rushed through it too, and tried to change my mood before I went to bed, just so I wouldn’t dream about it … which I didn’t, thank God.

    Litlove — I suppose I’ll write about it at some point, but I really don’t have much to say — it’s brilliant, but I do understand why not everyone needs to read it!

    Verbivore — I was very grateful to avoid the nightmares myself. While I was immersed in the book, I was quite ready to believe in it, although once I’m more distanced from it, I find it hard to believe too.

    Smithereens — I can see why you would avoid this type of book; for me, movies are more powerful and stay with me longer, the bad mood they can create, I mean. The Road IS well-written; maybe look at it while you’re feeling particularly hardy.

    Cam — you really don’t need to read the whole thing to have experienced it — I’m not criticizing the book, but once you get what’s going on, it’s really mostly more of the same. It’s funny that I’m the opposite about books and movies — scary books are okay, but keep me away from those movies!

    Victoria — well, I’ll look forward to the movie — or, maybe I won’t, as it will probably affect me even more powerfully than the book … I do agree that often great books aren’t recreational and fun, but somehow this type of book with the bleakness and violence is in an entirely different category for me.

    Stefanie — you’d enjoy this one then. And yes, coming out of that world is quite a relief!

    Jenclair — interesting about No Country; I’m not sure I could take it!

    Danielle — it’s a very fast read; I read it in just a couple days, when usually I take forever. Definitely sandwich it between two fluffy books. I wish I had some Heyer around; it would be perfect!

    Jeane — yeah, definitely post-apocalyptic, taking place after some kind of world-wide disaster, most likely a nuclear holocaust, that leaves almost everything dead.

    Bikkuri — hey, I like that picture of the woman on the bicycle!

    Fendergal — okay, I’m definitely staying away from Jia then; I’m certain I couldn’t handle it.

    Iliana — McCarthy is hit or miss with me; I didn’t like The Crossing, but I did like this one.

    Hepzibah — it’s not one to read for fun, exactly, but it IS a good one to read nonetheless — it’s brilliant, just so hard to take.

    Courtney — your point makes perfect sense. I don’t know enough about the whole genre to be making claims about it, actually; I can’t think of another post-apocalyptic book I’ve read. And yeah, there’s no hope whatsoever in the book — yeah, something sort of good happens at the end (trying not to give away details), but ultimately, what is there for anybody?

  22. Glad you liked the pic. It made me think about your recent series of posts.

    Courtney’s comments were interesting. I think some post-apocalyptic works are meant to promote social change. In that case, their purpose would be served by presenting a situation with no hope; warning people to change their ways now or reap the sorrow. (Pollution, Nuclear War, Virus, Sterility, etc. are all potential topics there.)

    The post-apocalyptic stories which have hope are most likely about the indomitable human spirit or a morality tale about how people respond to severe circumstances. In these cases an apocalypse is merely a vehicle to create the setting.

  23. Hmm… in Dennis Lehane’s review, he wrote: “…so the final affirmation of hope in the novel’s closing pages is all the more shocking…” Apparently he felt this book does include hope; although he does indicate that there is a lot more despair than hope.

  24. Bikkuri — Interesting. I’m not sure where The Road fits in there. He does describe the indomitable human spirit, but on the other hand, that human spirit seems like a waste. What’s the point when everything is destroyed? The ending did have a kind of hopeful moment, in the short term, but from a larger perspective it seems meaningless, at least to me.

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