It's by a chap called Cormac McCarthy, it’s called The Road and it’s just been made into a film... The cover was good. It looked intelligent. But the bit inside was even better. It begins with a man and a boy walking down a road in cold weather. And it ends with a man and a boy walking down a road in cold weather. In between, not much happens. But it was brilliant. Even though it is not much thicker than a pamphlet and no longer than a warning notice on a train’s lavatory door, it took me nearly a week to read. I kept going back over some of the phrases thinking: “That didn’t work.” But they do work.
I’m not sure Cormac McCarthy would be much fun as a dinner guest and neither would I seek his company after the death of a loved one or a family pet, but, God Almighty, the man can write. I read the damn thing on a beach in Barbados and it made me feel so cold I had to go and get a jumper.
My wife thought I’d gone mad. So she read it when I’d finished and when she got to the end she went and sat by herself for a while and sobbed.
Not everyone will have heard of The Road or its author. It’s a hidden jewel. It sits in the bookshops like the BMW 135i sits in the dealership.
To what extent is this a late-stage fine-tuning of his persona, and to what extent is it the account of real experience? I was being faux-naive when I said 'I assume that's a kind of car'. Is he being faux-naive when he calls the text 'the bit inside'? OK, that's an easy one - yes he is, for a laugh. Anyway, an interesting little extension of the Clarkson franchise.