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It’s an Inspirational Dystopia March 29, 2007

Posted by KG in Books.

I was a little surprised when I saw that one of my favorite recent reads, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, was chosen as this month’s selection for Oprah’s book club. At the expense of seeming Franzen-esque, the selection seems to deviate significantly from many of those prior to it. For example, I’m fairly sure that it’s the first book on the list that features brain-eating cannibals in a post-apocalyptic nightmare world. The quick-to-generalize part of me (you know, the one that suspects Oprah’s audience is primarily made up of overly sentimental hausfraus) thinks of this and is particularly gleeful. The more charitable and even-headed side actually shares part of the excitement (if not the kind-of unfair cackle): Oprah’s a very, very smart woman and The Road is pretty fantastic — it deserves any sales bump it gets, from any source. Still, I’m having a lot of fun picturing my personal stereotype of Oprah’s audience reading a book that’s basically about a walk through unimaginable hell.

Clearly, Oprah has joined me and The Pygs in being into reading about the Zombie/cannibal thing. If you also fall into that category (one of us! one of uuuuuussss!), here’s another recommendation: The Terror. Probably the longest book I’ve read in some time, and one of the most engrossing. Given our absurdly short and temperate winter and the lovely weather outside, you may feel hesitant to read about 120 men trapped in Arctic ice, struggling to survive and not doing a very good job at it — but it’s worth reading, especially on those (hopefully forthcoming) rainy Saturday afternoons of April. Unfortunately, The Terror is also a difficult book for anyone who’s a slow reader or totes their reading back and forth on the Metro (carrying it around made a significant contribution both to my shoulder muscles and my back fatigue). But: still the best book about the Arctic I’ve ever read, and unlike Moby Dick, the boring parts about working aboard ship are almost unnoticeable. And! Eskimo Mysticism. And Massive Beasties That Want to Eat You. And (though you have to wait for it) Zombie-Cannibals.


Also: The AV Club: surely one of the most reliably excellent web publications around, and not just for the obligatory Dan Savage. Discuss.



1. Becca - March 30, 2007

I totally derive guilty pleasure reading good dystopias. Right after The Road, I breezed straight into Children of Men. My mother asked me how I could read these books without wanting to jump off a bridge! Though is the non-zombie/cannibal variety, my favorite post-apocolypse book is On the Beach, by Neville Chute – oldie, but goodie.

(Oh, Hi! I’m Becca, I’ve been lurking on your blog for a while reading about your exciting life of travels. I think this is the first time I’ve commented.)

2. the g - March 30, 2007

the N is currently reading The Terror, of course.

3. KG - March 30, 2007

G: Seriously? That’s hilarious. Make sure you pick up some seal meat next time you’re at the market.

4. Shawn - March 30, 2007

Thanks for the recommendations. I’d been meaning to read “The Road.” I should go out and buy it it as soon as possible before the only copies available read “Oprah’s Choice.” I can’t own that.

5. fsowalla - March 31, 2007

First, you should be punished for defending Oprah’s Book Club. I only hope that her audience are shocked and horrified by the book, but no, they’ll spin into something feel-good. And slightly squishy. Just look at the suggested points of departure for discussion on the website: “What is the difference between ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’?” Vomit…

AVClub rocks. Some great recs for music.

6. Shawn - April 1, 2007

It turns out they apparently timed the release of the trade paperback of “The Road” with the Oprah pick so they’re all plastered with her damn stick. I bought it anyway and spent considerable time carefully peeling the sticker off. I’ve regained my street cred.

7. Nick - April 2, 2007

The fiancee really liked “The Road,” I’m planning on reading her copy once I get through “Against the Day”.

8. smuttynose - April 2, 2007

I love AV Club. Their lists (for example, “26 Songs That are Just as Good as Short Stories”) are the best. And they review comics! It’s surprising how much overlap there is between AV Club and Nerve.com, though. I think I read pretty much the same Joseph Gordon-Leavitt interview in both last week.

I’m totally behind and just saw that the paper version of the Onion is coming to DC. That’s how we know we’re comin’ up in the world, I guess.

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