The clocks stopped at 1:17. A long shear of light and then a series of low concussions. He got up and went to the window. What is it? she said. He didn’t answer. He went into the bathroom and threw the lightswitch but the power was already gone. A dull rose glow in the windowglass. He dropped to one knee and raised the lever to stop the tub and then turned on both taps as far as they would go. She was standing in the doorway with her nightwear, clutching the jamb, cradling her belly in one hand. What is it? she said. What is happening?
I don’t know.
Why are you taking a bath?
While much of the focus on The Road is used to highlight the supposed ‘environmental message’ of the film and the novel on which it is based, I was left wondering if in fact the apocalypse levelled on the fictional world was not more akin to the great devastation we so nearly faced during the Cold War.
Each person to read The Road seems to read a different book. I didn’t take an ‘environmental message’ from it at all. I think it’s a totally valid way to read it – our lives are reliant on the ecosphere, when it goes we go – but I also think Oprah is right when she insists that The Road is a spiritual journey and that I’m right when I say that it’s a commentary on the horror genre, just as No Country for Old Men is a commentary on action thrillers and Blood Meridian is a commentary on the western.
I assumed the book was about a nuclear holocaust. When I was a child and the power went out I always checked to see if my digital watch worked. I knew that the electro-magnetic pulse of a hydrogen bomb would break it but if the watch still told time it was just a regular outage and I was safe.