Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Old Man and the Wasteland by Nick Cole

I really like this book.

I liked 'The Old Man and the Sea' by Ernest Hemingway.

I like this book just as much, if not more.

'The Old Man and the Wasteland' tells the story of an old man of the desert, decades after the world ended in a nuclear war. He has gone many days without bringing in good salvage for the group he lives with, too many. He goes out one morning seeking salvage, but this time, he goes deeper and deeper into the wasteland, deeper than he has ever gone before struggling against hunger, thirst, fatigue... and other, more sinister things. He finds salvage, though. Not what he was expecting - this salvage has higher stakes attached to it than anything else he's ever found: the lives and future of not only himself, but his family, and perhaps humanity.

The voice is perfect. It's absolutely spot on. And it's not an imitation, or a parody, of the old man from Hemingway's book. If anything, it's an homage, a tribute, and all throughout Nick Cole's book the story intertwines beautifully with the old classic.

The old man's love for his family is powerful and simple, and his solid, old-fashioned goodness and practicality contrasts sharply with the harsh reality that is post-apocalyptic Arizona. And when I say harsh, I mean harsh. It's a dark world out in the irradiated desert, folks. This is not a family read-aloud. But though the darkness is there, it is offset by the light in the old man. 

It started out as a self-published novel. The cover you're looking at is the new cover, from after Harper picked it up. But I read the original, and I've got to tell you the book as a whole exuded a rare kind of quality, among self-pubbed and traditional books alike.

A powerful, well written, fascinating story. Nicely done, Nick Cole. :) Hat's off to you.

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