There’s really not much to this book. You know exactly where it is going. And yet, when you get there, it’s still moving.
At the beginning, McCarthy pretty much tells you, flat out, what the dilemma is. (Will the father be strong enough to do what’s necessary, when the time comes?) Which, at the time, I thought was fairly “on the nose” and unnecessary.
Yet I wonder whether, absent the explicit set-up, the rest of the narrative would have held its dramatic tension. It might have just felt like aimless wandering.
Or would the reader have known, or felt, or sensed, the impending dilemma on his or her own. Without being told.
In the hypothetical world, it would be nice to be able to conduct a little experiment, reading the book twice, to determine which way is better.
But, of course, you can’t un-know what you know. You can’t un-ring the bell.
The other thing I noted was the font, and the spacing. Seems like the book is really only 100 pages. You can imagine the marketing guys stretching it to 275 to make it seem more “substantial”.
Nevertheless, I remain envious. This is a book I wish I had written. I would have done it strictly in the third person. Left out the set-up, as well as the flashback when he reveals what happened to the wife and mom. But I love the construct. The dialogue. (If you can call it that.) The minimalist style which matches the physical and emotional landscape. Substance = form. And it really got me at the end.