I just finished it. Read it through in one day, alternately in my bedroom or down for a period by the pool. I leafed through each page carefully but quickly, my eyes devouring entire paragraphs at a time. A hundred desolate images have flickered across my mind, images of human cruelty, of hideous privation and despair. How can something be so bleak and uplifting at the same time? It breaks your heart. It’s like the Brothers Karamasov, where you read a tome filled with the absurdities and follies and excesses and weaknesses of man, only to be finally destroyed by the goodness of the final few pages.
It grinds you down. Strips you of illusion, makes you feel the despair, and then at the end, when you’re only standing on one slender spar of hope and goodness, it uses that very remnant to break you.
This novel is simpler than Blood Meridian, the writing is stripped down, without the powerful, evocative descriptions that continue for pages on end, the impassioned bursts in which McCarthy unloads his power onto the page. This is measured, carefully paced, a deliberate telling in near Biblical style.
McCarthy is brilliant.