Swan Song Book Review
I’ve been to the library twice in as many weeks; I’d almost forgotten how much I love libraries.
One of the librarians recommended I read the novel Swan Song,
which I’ve since discovered is on PBS’s list of top 100 great American
Have you read this novel?
Let me start out by saying that Swan Song
is not great literature, but it is a great read. I’ve been a bit negligent in my reading habits
lately, so perhaps this 900+ page indulgence will help get me back in the habit and warm me up for worthier goals. That said, McCammon’s sprawling
post-nuclear fantasy-horror novel is worth much more than its surface appeal.
After The Bombs
The novel’s been compared to Stephen King’s The Stand
, and although I can see a resemblance in the general subject matter, (catastrophic
event which destroys America’s old way of life, a struggle for survival, a battle for humanity, showdown between good and evil, and a very creepy
villain) I find McCammon’s to offer a more thorough examination of the human spirit, in all its radiance and its depravity.
Although the novel is rather thick, McCammon wastes very few words. His lead up to the U.S./Russian nuclear exchange is brief, the actual attack
short and brutal, the devastation sprawling and shocking, but the bulk of the novel details a slow and grueling climb back to some semblance of
civilization. The novel offers an interesting mix between fantasy and realism.
The characters, though flat (according to literary standards), are interesting and offer simplified versions of the varied aspects of the human
character. There’s a supernatural element of God/Satan as well. The “Man With the Scarlet Eye” made for a memorable villain, and I was
fascinated by the glimpses of his psyche.
I enjoyed the biblical overtones, which when juxtaposed with modern American cultural references and the utter loss and destruction of both, made for
a chilling picture indeed.
I love the role forgiveness plays in the novel.
In a novel about a man-made wasteland, purity and goodness stand out, and either inspire others to goodness, or hold an unforgiving mirror up to
villany. Swan Song
examines the Machiavellian question posed in The Prince
,but in this conclusion, loyalty and love are natural
consequences of virtue, and fear might inspire loyalty but only to a certain extent and never love.
I do believe that virtue is attractive to fewer, but more quality souls.
After reading this novel, I walked outside and soaked it all in-- the brightness and warmth of the sun, the clear and colorful skies, the pulse of
life all around… and realized that I have so much to be grateful for.
I’d recommend reading this novel if you haven’t already.