Cormac McCarthy: The Passenger

The latest addition to my website is Cormac McCarthy‘s The Passenger. Published when he was eighty-nine, it is clear that McCarthy can still write a first-class novel. Our hero is Bobby Western. Two things initially cause him misery – the suicide of his twin sister, whom he was in love with and the fact that his father was involved in the construction of the atom bomb. Though an expert on physics he is now a salvage diver and early on is sent to examine a plane lying on the bottom of the sea off New Orleans. There are lots of suspicious things about this plane, not least the fact that it was missing and has been found is nowhere reported. He finds all the passengers in ther seats but later learns that one is missing and various seemingly official but menacing characters pursue him assiduously, forcing him to go off grid. Bobby is clearly very unhappy but so are most of the other major characters, with quite a few dying while still relatively young, going off grid or ending up in institutions. The sheer intensity of the sorrow of these characters is what makes these books, as none of them, Bobby included, can cope with life.

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