So if you want to be pedantic (and I’m sure you will) this isn’t really an unappreciated classic. It’s quite appreciated in fact, to the point of making a movie of it that’s coming out rather soon (with Viggo. Mmmmm, Viggo).
But it’s still a classic and this is my blog, so basically pfft.
The Road will scare the babyjeebus out of you. Compared to this Stephen King writes stories about (ZOMG!) ponies. It is a post-apocalyptic story of greyness and death and lots of ashes and a tiny little ray of hope and humanity. A man and his son are making their way towards the sea, along the way dealing with deprivation, starvation, and large roving bands of cannibals, as well as fundamental questions of “good guys” vs “bad guys” and whether actions can be redeemable and explicable in a world with no consequences.
There are graphic scenes of gore as well as terrible emotional death, yet the sparseness and beauty of the language never allows you to look away – McCarthy will simply not let you pretend this isn’t real, will not let you leave the story behind and retreat (it’s almost the antithesis of a book like American Psycho – there are several scenes in that I’ve simply never read out of horror and because I could skip). And these scenes are not many – this is not about catapulting you into terror, but about the relationship between father and son, about the need of the father to protect his son and to keep alive and safe the one good thing he has – to the point of sanctification.
And then this all comes to an end in a way that gives you some hope, some joy and leaves you feeling meditative and still bleak. Despite the fact that I love spoilers, I know I’m in a party of one so I won’t spoil this for you.
The end of the world may very well change how we act and how we behave but it won’t change how we think or how we feel or how we love.