I finished the latest Harry Potter book at Lake Tahoe (I'm with the epilogue haters, but was pretty happy with it otherwise) as well as the other book I was reading: Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Murder, and Civil Rights in the Jazz Age--an excellent account of racism and murder in Detroit, 1925. The book really clarifies the way in which racist fears developed in the industrial North after WW1; Clarence Darrow took on the case shortly after the Scopes Monkey trial and won. Even though I've done tons of research for my YA novel in progress, about a white boy who witnesses a lynching in Indiana, 1925, I find it continually rewarding to read nonfiction about race relations in the early 20th century. It's easy to forget just how socially acceptable overt racism was at that time, not just in the South but in the North as well. And I guess reading these accounts keeps reminding me that my story is worth sticking with, after all these years.
Alert readers will note that the title of this post was "The Road," that being the title of Cormac McCarthy's latest novel. I got sidetracked because I was telling you that I had finished both of my books on the Lake Tahoe trip, and I needed a new book to read. I had initially resisted reading The Road, despite glowing, even gushing reviews. I had tried to read the first book of McCarthy's Border trilogy--The Crossing, I think, and found it slow-going and terribly pretentious, and never finished it. I have known several cowboys, and NONE of them talked the way McCarthy's cowboys talked. But I was at a bookstore in the Las Vegas airport, where the slot machines are plentiful and excellent, if you like that sort of thing, but the bookstores are perfunctory. So I bought The Road, and I'm telling you, it's the bleakest book I have ever whipped my way through. In case you hadn't read about it, it's about a father and son making their way across a post-Apocolyptic America, in which they scavenge food and defend themselves against the other few survivors in search of a good source of protein.
But it's also about a father's deep love for his son, and hope that flies in the face of all logic and evidence, and that's what kept me reading. Now I understand all the hype about the book--and I guess I'm glad that the Las Vegas airport bookstore had little else to offer. Because I hit the jackpot with this one.