The Old Man and the Wasteland by Nick Cole
I don’t read a lot of post-apocalyptic books; they really depress me. But I was fortunate enough to find this one on a free Kindle list and gave it a shot. [Note: Although this novel is a standalone read and a real gem, it also comes bundled with two others in what is called a trilogy.]
The author uses themes that parallel Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and Sea,” and the book itself is a prop in the story. Anyone familiar with that work will recognize characters and plot motifs. Some are obvious, while others many not come to you until days later.
The Old Man is a survivor of a war that devastated the country many years before, and he lives with a small group of others in what was once the American southwest. He salvages items of use to the group, and that task has become more difficult without going further from the camp. One day, he decides he can’t return without a decent find, and he will keep walking until he gets something, no matter what happens.
The things he does, the trouble he runs into, and the characters he meets are mostly brutal and disturbing. However, they occur within the context of the story and are not gratuitous. The author does a great job describing the Old Man’s struggles against the physical world and his own emotions.
I like good description in a book, but not to the point where my imagination is unnecessary. Cole uses just the right amount of narrative to illustrate the wasteland and the people in it, while allowing for your own fancy to fill it out.
I have mixed feelings about the Epilogue; basically, whether or not it was necessary to the book. However, it was interesting. I can’t say more without spoilers.
Overall, I give high marks to this book and recommend it without hesitation. Even after the bad dreams…