Annotation by Aaron Gansky
Maybe because I’m a man, maybe because I’m a father, this book resonated with me much more. This isn’t what I expected. I’ve heard of McCarthy and how wonderful he is. I think I was expecting something ornate and overly-literary. Instead, what I got was the sparseness of Carver or Hemmingway. My God, the dialogue! My first impression was that it was overly-redundant, and that he could cut out about fourteen pages if he simply deleted the word “okay.” My final impression, on that note, however, was the same. By the end of the novel, I still thought that the dialogue was overly-stiff, overly-sparse, overly-redundant, overly-overly, really. That being said, there were moments that were outstanding. He really nailed the dialogue at times, but not often enough, methinks.
That being said, I loved the book. I would have liked to have known what happened to the world (and I’m really surprised he got away without having to spell out what it was exactly—normally in post-apocalyptic books you have to give light to the cataclysm to satisfy readers). At the end of the book, I still wanted to know, but I was satisfied with the book regardless.
There, I’ve said my criticism. Now, on to what I love. The suspense and tension were ever present. McCarthy made isolation intimidating. He made company terrifying. He made old men and young boys daunting. Weather was ominous, empty homes were menacing.
But, what I thought he did really well was provide a respite for the man and the boy. I read somewhere (why can’t I remember where?) that characters should reap the reward of their actions—good guys should catch a break sometimes, bad guys should get what’s coming to them. It doesn’t always work that way in literature, but having the man and the boy catch a break at times (the ship, the fallout shelter), those were good times. It allowed me to breathe as a reader—something I couldn’t really do in The Grapes of Wrath *Aaron fashions a noose as he types the title*. In my novel, I need to let my characters catch their breath. That’s something I don’t normally do, but it’s something I’m looking forward to trying.