Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Five best books about mortality and existential angst

Jon Krakauer is the author of Where Men Win Glory, Under the Banner of Heaven, Eiger Dreams, Into the Wild, and Into Thin Air.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books about mortality and existential angst. One novel on his list:
The Road
by Cormac McCarthy

Diseased and starving, a man and his young son trek through a ravaged landscape, continually in danger from other survivors of being raped, killed and cannibalized. As "The Road" unfolds, Cormac McCarthy's attenuated sentences transport the reader with hypnotic force: "The city was mostly burned. No sign of life. Cars in the street caked with ash, everything covered with ash and dust....A corpse in a doorway dried to leather." The father assures the boy: "My job is to take care of you....I will kill anyone who touches you." And therein lies the moral conundrum at the center of this extraordinary book: Can the father commit the acts of savagery required to protect his son without corrupting the boy's gracious nature and benevolent heart? After turning the final page I was drained and reeling.
Read about another book on Krakauer's list.

The Road appears on William Skidelsky's list of the top ten most vivid accounts of being marooned in literature, Liz Jensen's top 10 list of environmental disaster stories, the Guardian's list of books to change the climate, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and the Times (of London) list of the 100 best books of the decade. Sam Anderson of New York magazine claims "that we'll still be talking about [The Road] in ten years."

Fans of The Road include Paulette Jiles, Joshua Clark, David Dobbs, Andrew Pyper, Dan Rather, Jim Lehrer, Michael J. Fox, Mark McGurl, and this guy.

--Marshal Zeringue