On the way to work this morning I finished Cormac Mccarthy's The Road. I don't know that it isn't the best novel I have ever read. The only thing I can really compare it to is Robert Swindell's Brother in the Land, which is essentially the same tale but written for teenagers and probably the best book I read as a child. Thanks to my friend Oliver (who I expect doesn't read this blog) for the recommendation.
Without giving away anything you wouldn't pick up from the back cover, it's a post-apocalyptic tale of a man and his son trudging across a devastated America. And yet it remains a very inexact apocalypse*. Andrew O'Hagan called it "the first great masterpiece for the globally warmed generation"...and yet, while there are allusions to the nature of the apocalypse having been environmental, it seems hardly clear cut. (Also I'd contend that fairly specific accolade goes to Ennis and Ezquerra's two volumes of Just a Pilgrim. For whatever that may be worth.)
The fictional apocalypses I'm used to dealing with were so clear cut: the vampires or the zombies or the robots took over the world, or the bomb fell, or the gods returned. There's something newly disturbing about an end of the world attributed to no very specific cause.
*The phrase is China Mieville's and comes from the wonderful short story Looking for Jake which you can find in the eponymous collection.