Thursday, January 17, 2008
I admit it, I am a sucker for Oprah's Book Club. She hooked me back in the early 90s with Now I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and I have been faithful every since (except for her non-fiction selections, that girl has some serious issues!!)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy is the isolating tale of a father and son, traveling alone along 'the road' to an unknown better place in the years following an apocalypse. It is inferred that this apocalypse was in the form of nuclear war, though it is not clearly stated. It is obvious by the events in the book that this war occurred years perhaps even decades prior to the events in the book. The novel itself is written more like poetry than prose and reads very nicely. The characters suck you in and by the end you will have cried at least once or twice.
I was able to read this book in one day, it is a quick read but will leave you contemplating the events for weeks to come.
Cormac McCarthy also authored No Country for Old Men my favorite movie of 2007.
Wiki: The Wikipedia article for The Road is well written and extensive.
The Handmaid's Tale is a post-apocalyptic (though some would describe it as 'dystopian') memoir set in the near-future as told by a Handmaid. Women in this society are cast into unchangeable roles, women of childbearing age are trained as Handmaids and sent to live with a rich 'morally fit' husband and wife who are either to old or too sterile to bear children of their own. There are elaborate 'ceremonies' to reconcile this forced slavery with the strict religious views of the bourgeoisie couples who 'employ' the use of Handmaids. Women who are older or who have 'proven' that they cannot bear children and are therefore ineligible to become a surrogate are cast out to perform 'clean-up' work (women in this position rarely live more than a year), or are relegated to the role of a cook or a housekeeper.
Throughout the tale, the Handmaid recalls her 'normal' past and outlines how this mono-theocratic society came to be. The overall theme of the book is hope and strength under otherwise oppressive conditions.
This book specifically targets women, and is written to draw empathy for the main character, a woman who before the 'end' had a husband and child and a job and lived a very normal life. Margaret Atwood creates a believable yet surreal rendering of a future that is not that hard to imagine.
Too busy to read the book? It was also made into a cheesy movie: The Handmaid's Tale (1990)