Here we are—ten years out since the publication (2006) of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Anne is celebrating in the persona of a male book reviewer.
Anne Harding Woodworth
The Book Reviewer’s Diary
[R]eaders . . . have the right to expect that books are assessed based on their merits, not just on a critic's . . . preferences. Byron Calame
Good read. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. I finished it the day I found a note from Sara. Have a nice life, asshole. She’d driven away.
Then the Repo man came and took the second Land Rover.
Then the cops came to evict us. Sign on lawn. For sale. Foreclosure. So the boy and I started down our street with Wheat Thins and a lap top.
Where we going, Dad?
We going to be okay?
Of course we going to be okay.
We walked seven miles to an empty foreclosed house that had wifi. I checked my mail and he asked if he could take a sauna. When he came back a boy was with him. He had his arm around him. He looked at him. Being starry-eyed.
I sent the draft of my favorable review to the editor who didnt reply. We ate rib-eyes on the patio. I disconnected the propane tank.
Why did you disconnect the tank, Dad?
To carry the fire.
Do we have to carry the fire?
So we always have fire.
And that’s good?
Yes. That’s good.
We slept in the foreclosed house and when we left in the morning we took the mayo and lighbulbs wrapped in a wool blanket with the propane tank. The boy’s boy made a right-hand turn, wearing a NorthFace jacket.
The boy and I walked straight on to the mall. All boarded up. Every window. Boarded. Some cracked glass. Leaves and dust everywhere in the wind. We found a cart and put the propane tank into it. The cart made a lot of noise on the asphalt of the parking lot. Having rusted wheels that still turned.
That night we slept under the stars in a field.
How did the stars get there, Dad?
Sort of like bombs.
Are there going to be more explosions?
Are bombs bad?
Yes bombs are bad.
Next morning we pushed the cart into a subdivision that looked just like ours. Being white clapboard vinyl with black or green shutters. Every house having a foreclosed sign. Not a human being in sight.
I’m hungry he said.
I am too.
Any more Wheat thins?
What are we going to do, Dad?
I dont know.
Isnt that our house?
I think so.
Maybe there are more Wheat Thins there.
Not till I get paid for my review.
Will the fire last that long?
Did they like your review?
Was it favorable?
Why did you like the book?
What is style? the boy said.
Hard to say.
You’re not going to die are you, Dad?
Dont know. Maybe.
Okay. I coughed bloody sputum. Let’s go home.
Copyright © 2016 Anne Harding Woodworth