Oprah on The Road / The Road on Oprah

I’m a voracious reader and my personal and professional lives both revolve around books: I’m always either reading a book, teaching a book, or writing about a book. Sometimes all at the same time for three different books.

In short order this spring I’ve read a string of novels, nonstop, usually starting the newest one only hours after I have just finished the previous one. Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons, The Keep by Jennifer Egan, The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, The Confusion by Neal Stephenson, The Known World by Edward P. Jones.

And then, a few weeks ago I read The Road by the elusive Cormac McCarthy. This was before Oprah chose McCarthy’s novel as her latest “Oprah’s Book.” (A most unusual selection for her, and I’m sure a shocking read to Oprah’s followers, who are more accustomed to books about painful family relationships than the post-apocalyptic horrors of cannibalism and barbary found in The Road.) This was also before McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize for The Road.

So what happened when I read McCarthy’s novel?

Quite simply, I haven’t been able to read another book since. So dark and disturbing, yet literarily brilliant is the novel, that I’m shaken to the core, unable to pick up anything else to read until something–I don’t know what–in me subsides.