I think The Road is the book that has affected me more strongly than any other. It is insane: it could truly make a person insane if you inhabited the place it comes from, and the language is so powerful that it almost forces you to. It’s about the most brutally bleak post-apocalypse scenario that could ever be envisioned, and within it, a father and son trying to stay alive from hour to hour, heading on a devastating and pointless journey to the sea (a fixation that seems vaguely potent to me, associated as it is with Coney Island and California dreams) where they hope they will meet people who aren’t trying to eat them. There’s no why: whatever catastrophe took place is essentially unexplained, and it doesn’t matter anyway because the ruin of the world is so complete that they often seem out of recognizable time and space altogether–one line calls it “some cold glaucoma dimming the whole world.”
In the book, Cormac McCarthy has broken pretty much all issues in life to their bare, terrible bones. Father and son, removed from all context of family or home, are like two dogs watching out for one another. Memories are everywhere but disgusting. Food is poisonous fuel, clothes are necessary dangers.
An example line: “Barren, silent, godless. He thought the month was October but he wasnt sure. He hadnt kept a calendar for years… He knew only that the child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke.”