A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
Look, I'll admit it. I'm a huge fan of Cormac McCarthy and have read every (I mean EVERY) book, play, screenplay, and piece of short fiction (Wake for Susan , A Drowning Incident ) he has written. While 'The Road' is not his very best (Go read 'Suttree' or 'Blood Meridian' if you are looking for the late 20th Century's answer to Herman Melville and William Faulkner). 'The Road' is a very approachable McCarthy and loses none of McCarthy's prose stylings, while at the same time making his writing more palatable to the average mass-fiction reader.
So, if you haven't read McCarthy before, this is a good first stop, but please DEAR GOD, don't let this be your only or your last stop. Read McCarthy more, read McCarthy often, or the kid gets it.
There is something I love about Walker Percy. I think it is the loveliness of Percy's confrontation and struggle with spiritual belief. His characters are amazing, his prose is lovely. He writes these quirky scenes, in a sometimes peculiar prose, without them seeming fussy or overwrought (an amazing balancing act right there).
Perhaps, I am just drawn to my big Trinity of Catholic Novelists(Greene, O'Connor, Percy). They don't play in an easy hothouse of consecration. They don't write about faith, belief, or redemption as if these topics were easy loads to lift. Percy, to me, meets the Modern man where he is; trapped between light and darkness, between falling and hoisting, between Heaven and Hell. Percy greets the reader and lifts him, slaps him on the ass, and pushes him on his way.
Absurd, fantastic, and the narrative almost measures up to the cover art. A book about two frontier assassin brothers in search of the 'pot of gold' over the rainbow. Two killer angels seeking to "understand why, or how they might change things for the better." This novel is about that quest. A quest to change, to understand, to alter lots, cheat fate and better predicaments. Fundamentally, however, it is about the things that link us: blood, death, family, lust and greed. The book's absurdity lacks nihilism, its craziness exists without meanness, and the killings and murders seem to echo with a beautiful melancholic fatalism of Charles Portis and Mark Twain.
You might not expect a story set in Southeastern Mississippi to be so poignant and so
completely involving. (I apologize to all Mississippians). The title refers to the method in which
children are taught the spelling of their state's name. However, the story and the characters here are so thoroughly, so brilliantly conceived that the book holds your interest in a spellbinding way. Virtually any other book will find that this one is a hard act to follow. The primary characters, Larry Ott and Silas (who is known as 32) have a story to tell that draws you in and grabs you by the brain and heart. I searched for Tom Franklin's other work, and was disappointed to find how little there is. Very hard to make a living as a writer these days, no matter how breathtaking your talent is. I can rave about other books, but I can't rave hard enough to do this one justice. The two men have intertwining life stories that encircle each other in a way that constantly surprises you. Justice, that wonderful construct (in the abstract) follows them for twenty or thirty years of their lives. I won't spoil the plot or the nature of these two men for you: the delight is in your own discovery. The secondary characters are also extremely well drawn, although the women are less so than the men, as we have come to expect, even from the best of our male writers these days. One of the women turns out to have an absolutely critical role. I will say little more, except to tell Tom Franklin, if he happens to be reading, to bear up and be brave: his talent is almost matchless. We are out here reading, and we are waiting for him to write again.