When I finished reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road, I wasn't quite certain how it was that my heart was still beating.
Because I was convinced that someone had entered my house and beaten me to death with a baseball bat. I seriously closed the book, put it next to me on the couch, and then proceeded to feel my skull, because it had to be concave somewhere, so sound was the beating I took. I kept feeling around. Where is the valley where my head was bashed in? Where is it?
I also cried, but this might be because I knew Viggo Mortensen would be playing the father in the movie, and Viggo = hot. Even dirty and stanky and half-mad with starvation, Viggo = hot. And, if you read the book, you know how Father/Viggo ends up.
All my cheeky talk is taking away from the fact that I found the book to be quite powerful, and I'm very serious when I say I did have to sit there and digest it all after I finished it. That story had to make its way around the bowels of my brain, and then I cried, and I don't meant to suggest that my tears were brain poop.
Gah! This isn't working!
It's difficult trying to say you enjoyed a work of fiction about post-apocalyptic America. Because enjoy isn't the correct word. I can't say I enjoyed reading a book about a father and son trying to make their way someplace, any place, through the barren, burned-out environment, and along the way, trying heartily to avoid the numerous bands of cannibals that perhaps set up shop where the old Wal-Mart used to be. It was hard to read, and I did feel a bit like some post-novel therapy was in order. But I was still glad I got through it.
I felt very similarly after reading John Hersey's Hiroshima, because reading about the level of death and destruction brought about by the dropping of the atomic bomb will do that.
Ditto for Lauren Slater's Welcome to My Country, and Susana Kaysen's Girl Interrupted, because if you've spent any amount of time here, you'd know that I'm all over that depression lit, with good reason! Both were crucial reads at a time when I needed smart people to validate what I'd been enduring, and I was grateful for having encountered both stories.
Junot Diaz's book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was also a killer. A good killer, a sexy killer, where all your encouraging energy goes to a morbidly obese, fantasy-obsessed teen. Moving back and forth in time, you get a horrifyingly clear picture of how far the death and destruction of a brutal dictatorship (Trujillo in the Dominican Republic) spreads, and how many people are affected.
What I want to know is what books really got to you? Which did you put down but not forget about?