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A father and his son, unnamed in the story, walk alone through burned America. The landscape is ravaged: the only movement is ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and the snow that falls is grey.
They are heading to the coast, where they hope it will be warmer. They don't have any idea of what will be there, but there is nothing where they are and it is cold. They have almost nothing. A pistol to defend themselves against the ragged, lawless bands roaming the road, the clothes they are wearing and a cart of scavenged food.
They do have each other, and the father's loving efforts to care for his son are rendered that much more wrenching by the unavailability of food, of shelter and of safety. There is no companionship, and there is no real hope in this post-apocalyptic world. They scavenge in order to exist. And the absence of names, creates both distance and closeness. Distance because it is easier not to relate to the unidentified, closeness because it is hard to keep the reality of their experiences at bay. The past is becoming increasingly remote and inaccessible. There is a form of existence, and the prospect of death. Perhaps as an escape.
`Can you do it? When the time comes?'
I read this book in one sitting yesterday. I could not put it down. And the story followed me into sleep. Originally, I wanted to know what caused the apocalypse. By the end, it didn't matter. I needed the reassurance of a bright autumn day to provide some distance. I already know that I need to read this book again. But not yet.
'Do you think that your fathers are watching? That they weigh you in their ledgerbook? Against what? There is no book and your fathers are dead in the ground.'
Clear, concise, illustrated, and practical are but a few words that describe of this book. I especially appreciated the "attitude" of the book... not only one of healing the sick, but also one of teaching those in the village how to establish a medical community of their own. It's a great book to use and then leave for those with whom you've been working. "Where There Is No Dentist" would be a good companion, as well.
I greatly enjoyed reading this out of the ordinary novel about an ordinary life. Although the plot may not take your breath away, the writing is compelling and keeps your interest as it covers the story of a woman from childhood to her senior years. Ms. McDermott does not tell this story in a linear way, but more like an acquaintance might share memories from her twenties, then from middle age, then back to childhood, something that occurred in her 70's and back to being a young adult. It unfolds almost like a mystery, because she alludes to events that aren't fully understood until fleshed out later.
This is the first book I've read by Alice McDermott, but it won't be the last; I so enjoyed it, I purchased another book by her as soon as I finished this one.
I recieved this as a Christmas present and so far I'm loving it! I think it's going to be much less expensive for seltzer water probably about the same price as buying soda. For soda some of the sodastream flavorings are not great though. I tweaked the cola flavor by adding a smaple size of the lemon-lime, a few drops of the orange and a few drops of vanilla into the concentrate bottle. It is acceptable now and tastes closer to coca cola.
The kids really do have fun with it and they've been experimenting with different flavors, they can make drinks using coolaid or shaved ice syrups.
The thing I like the most is that we can have many different flavors of soda on hand, made fresh and doesn't take up so much of our cupboard space.