All the modern novel can do is done here. After the great historical fictions of the American west, Blood Meridian and The Border Trilogy, The Road is no artistic pinnacle for McCarthy but instead a masterly reclamation of those midnight-black, gothic worlds of Outer Dark (1968) and the similarly terrifying but beautiful Child of God (1973). How will this vital novel be positioned in today's America by Savants, Tough Guys or worse? Could its nightmare vistas reinforce those in the US who are determined to manipulate its people into believing that terror came into being only in 2001? This text, in its fragility, exists uneasily within such ill times. It's perverse that the scorched earth which The Road depicts often brings to mind those real apocalypses of southern Iraq beneath black oil smoke, or New Orleans - vistas not unconnected with the contemporary American regime.