In the last few years the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction has been very hit and miss, sometimes being awarded to excellent novels and just as often being awarded to very bad ones. This was a banner year for the Pulitzer, as well as for Oprah's Book Club: Cormac McCarthy's The Road
is fantastic, keying into precisely the mix of premillennial anxiety and nihilistic angst that seems to best characterize the Bush years. For about twenty pages I wondered why it was a novel rather than a short story—then I stopped wondering. It's very good.
They began to come upon from time to time small cairns of rock by the roadside. They were signs in gypsy language, lost patterans. The first he'd seen in some while, common in the north, leading out of the looted and exhausted cities, hopeless messages to loved ones lost and dead. By then all the stores of food have given out and murder was everywhere upon the land. The world soon to be largely populated by men who would eat your children in front of your eyes and the cities themselves held by cores of blackened looters who tunneled among the ruins and crawled the rubble white of tooth and eye carrying charred and anonymous tins of food in nylon nets like shoppers in the commissaries of hell. The soft black talc blew through the streets like squid ink uncoiling along a sea floor and the cold crept down and the dark came early and the scavengers passing down the steep canyons with their torches trod silky holes in the drifted ash that closed behind them silently as eyes. Out on the roads the pilgrims sank down and fell over and died and the bleak and shrouded earth went trundling past the sun and returned again as trackless and as unremarked as the path of any nameless sisterworld in the ancient dark beyond.