Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Real

Cormac McCarthy, the author who gave us No Country for Old Men and All the Pretty Horses , has a new book, (2006) called The Road. Back in April, "The Road" was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

I haven't read the book, but according to Matt's Blog,

"Cormack McCarthy’s “The Road” chronicles the journey of a man and his son as they struggle to survive in a dying world. The fate into which the world has fallen is never fully explained. Everything is dead or dying. Ash and snow fall from the sky to cover what the great fires have destroyed. One can easily imagine a nuclear winter or at least a self-imposed disaster."

According to Waterstones,

"The Road" is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, 'each the other's world entire', are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation."

Many reviewers presume that the devastation was caused by nuclear war, but radiation doesn't seem to play an important role in the book.

A friend of mine suggested to me the other night that after reading the book, he believed that it depicts what happens when the world catches on fire due to climate change. I have imagined and written of that possibility, but this story from Science Daily gives the scenario and erie sense of possibility.
Warming Climate May Cause Arctic Tundra To Burn
Mar. 5, 2008

Research from ancient sediment cores indicates that a warming climate could make the world's arctic tundra far more susceptible to fires than previously thought. The findings are important given the potential for tundra fires to release organic carbon -- which could add significantly to the amount of greenhouse gases already blamed for global warming.

Montana State University post-doctoral researcher Philip Higuera is the lead author on the paper, which summarizes a portion of a four-year study funded by the National Science Foundation.

Higuera and his co-authors determined that after the last ice age, the arctic tundra was very different from what it is now. Instead of being covered with grasses, herbs, and short shrubs, it was covered with vast expanses of tall birch shrubs.

Charcoal preserved in the sediment cores also showed evidence that those shrub expanses burned -- frequently.

"This was a surprise," Higuera said. "Modern tundra burns so infrequently that we don't really have a good idea of how often tundra can burn. Best estimates for the most flammable tundra regions are that it burns once every 250-plus years." more

Most of have seen forest fires, and grass fires, but the idea of a tundra fire is quite foreign to us.

Humankind is moving towards the brink of setting its nest on fire. Imagine fires everywhere, the hot dry air, the smoke stained red sun, and the ashen fields of gloom. If your imagination needs a little jostle, read "The Road".

It's so easy to get wrapped up in the drama of yesterday's show of human behavior. I may not be the worst, but I'm in the top tier. And, it's easy and perhaps accurate to think that the outcome is critical.

It's much harder to stay focused on the real.

Perhaps because,

It is.

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Blogger Charlie Loving said...

McCarthy paints with prose like few others. It is a very sad and scary book.

5:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


7:48 AM  

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