IN THE WAKE OF THE SUN
of the culture that produced it and, despite its bleak or challenging vision, manages to somehow strike a chord with its readership, and
is one of those novels.American writers have historically been charged with picking upthe check when the nation
nds itself in a crisis, and in these situa-tions, succeeding generations of novelists attempt to get to the very root of the malaise a
ecting the national consciousness.
e chal-lenge can be boiled down to one question: What happens when the“city on a hill” has lost its moral force and luster? With McCarthy’smost recent novel, there are plenty of causes to explain this dysto-pian sensibility, and
succeeded in tapping into this bleak zeitgeist.
icts in Iraq and Afghanistan signaled a grim notein the nation’s history, and the zeal of American exceptionalist rhet-oric used to justify them had worn extremely thin.
ere was wide-spread disillusionment with the Bush administration.
ere was alsoan increased awareness that the planet was on the cusp of irreversibleecological disaster, and that damage had been done to the environ-ment that would permanently alter our relationship with landscapeand wilderness.
is last point is a pronounced theme in Americanliterary culture, and the nation’s literature has frequently exploredthe changing nature of this relationship.It is clear that
asks some profound questions aboutAmerican culture and the relationship between myth, history, andthe national consciousness.
e novel is quintessentially Americanin many respects, and it continues McCarthy’s mythoclastic pro-gram. Perhaps no narrative form is more quintessentially Americanthan the road narrative, but the one o
ered in the novel problema-tizes the myths of mobility and prosperity associated with it.In
e Geographical Imagination inContemporary American Culture
Brian Jarvis draws our attention