October 24, 2008
Cormac McCarthy - "The Road," God and Toothpaste
Finally got round to reading "The Road" this week and it does most of the things it says on the tin, even if I'm slightly concerned about how many times it's acceptable to use the verb "to lave" in a book (I would have said once, but McCarthyland is no country for old pedants). Anyway, once I'd finished blubbing and tearing my hair out and promising to remember to turn off all the lights behind me, I couldn't also help wondering about America and the God Thing. I mean, really the only reason the boy doesn't get spit-roasted and eaten is because he stumbles across some Chrissies. And his papa gives God and the Carrying The Fire thing quite a working over, too (someone should do a fan fiction version about a Salvation Army brass band). Following hot(tish) on the heels of the publication of David Foster Wallace's commencement speech (?) to Kenyon College in which he seemed to say that if you didn't worship one god or another you were doomed to a life of misery, and a US presidential election in which everyone's pastor has been scrutinised, I was wondering if there's anyone left in America who doesn't believe in God? Or, even better, who - placidly, calmly, without screaming - doesn't believe in any Big Thing?
Talking of ol' Cormac, I was having a writer's whinge to a friend a few month's back about my general lack of success and, to cheer me up, he used McCarthy as an example of a writer who had spent years toiling in obscurity before his rise to the tippety-top.
"Yeah, it got so bad, apparently," he told me, "that to eat he had to steal the toothpaste samples from other people's mailboxes." My family will sleep sounder for that...
"More Colgate, darling?"