“And what are names? He once had a name. Now the villagers simply called him the Old Man. It seemed appropriate. Often he responded.”
Many years after the end of the world, the Old Man – once reputed to be a respected scavenger – traverses the wastelands of what was once Western, United States, in search of one final bounty. As the Old Man ventures further into the unknown – his only companion being a pesky conscience – he is determined to not only return home with something that can change the life of his family forever, but to also discover his own purpose.
The Old Man and the Wasteland is not your typical post-apocalyptic tale. There are no flesh-eating zombies to be fearful of, nor are there bands of savages with large caches of guns and ammo causing chaos for other survivors (though there are human threats, and the Old Man does, in fact, encounter them). This is the story of a man who must face the knowns and unknowns of nature in order to survive; this is the story of a man looking to provide for his loved ones and find some semblance of success; this is the story of a man, nearing the end of his life, who has yet to truly find his purpose; this is a human story.
Cole has done quite an impressive job of creating both a parallel in plot and characterization to Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea – only set in the ruins of a post-technologically advanced America. But don’t think that this is simply a genre-infused knock-off of a classic tale. No, this is a fascinating retelling that exudes introspection and philosophy.
Expertly paced with beautifully haunting internal dialogue, The Old Man and the Wasteland is an absorbing read that will surely leave you pondering over your own life’s purpose. I will absolutely be delving into Cole’s other books in his Wasteland Saga.