Ian's Reviews > The Old Man and the Wasteland

The Old Man and the Wasteland by Nick Cole
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Apr 04, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: a-kindle, dystopian, short-stories, america-51
Read from April 06 to 07, 2012

This is a post nuclear apocalypse short story set in the wasteland of Arizona. It attempts to closely follow the structure of Hemingway's classic novella "The Old Man and the Sea", with an old man going out into the wilderness trying to recapture his youth and bring back some "salvage" which will regain him the respect of the people of his small village, for whom he has become a bit of a laughing stock.

This part of the novel is well done, with the old man constantly talking to himself, doubting himself and suffering from hunger and thirst as his journey goes deeper into the darkness beyond his known hunting territory.

The trouble is that once we get deep into the heart of the new material and he comes across other remnants of humanity, it all becomes rather silly. I suppose this is a function of dystopian novels in that our credulity is stretched, but unfortunately mine broke about 3/4 of the way through as the old man was cast into the physical fight for his life which in the original source was against the sharks who were eating the enormous giant marlin he had caught. One of the great themes of Hemingway's novel was the complete isolation that Santiago felt alone on the sea and it was a shame that the author couldn't keep this up and just maintain the struggle against nature.

I suppose the clue was in the last line of the synopsis...."A book lover’s action flick." That is precisely what went wrong. Spencer Tracey suddenly had to become Bruce Willis improbably surviving against all odds. Great cover mind you. Shame the novel didn't quite live up to the promise.
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04/06/2012 page 15
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