Book Club This Month

Our recomended best books for Book Clubs

Author: Cormac McCarthy

Category: Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Thriller / suspense

ISBN: 9780330457422

RRP: 45.00

Synopsis

The novels of the American writer, Cormac McCarthy, have received a number of literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His works adapted to film include All the Pretty Horses, The Road, and No Country for Old Men – the latter film receiving four Academy Awards, including the award for Best Picture.

One of America’s greatest living writers, now eighty-eight, returns with a book – a pair of books, together a masterpiece – a decade in the making.

The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy

1980, PASS CHRISTIAN, MISSISSIPPI: It is three in the morning when Bobby Western zips the jacket of his wetsuit and plunges from the boat deck into darkness. His divelight illuminates the sunken jet, nine bodies still buckled in their seats, hair floating, eyes devoid of speculation. Missing from the crash site are the pilot’s flightbag, the plane’s black box, and the tenth passenger. But how? A collateral witness to machinations that can only bring him harm, Western is shadowed in body and spirit – by men with badges; by the ghost of his father, inventor of the bomb that melted glass and flesh in Hiroshima; and by his sister, the love and ruin of his soul.

Traversing the American South, from the garrulous bar rooms of New Orleans to an abandoned oil rig off the Florida coast, The Passenger is a breathtaking novel of morality and science, the legacy of sin, and the madness that is human consciousness.

Stella Maris, the second volume in ‘The Passenger’ series, on sale November 29th, 2022.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The novels of the American writer, Cormac McCarthy, have received a number of literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His works adapted to film include All the Pretty Horses, The Road, and No Country for Old Men – the latter film receiving four Academy Awards, including the award for Best Picture.

 

READ THE REVIEW – 5 STAR READ

The Passenger by Cormac McCarthyIt’s been a decade since McCarthy’s last book and it’s immediately apparent that not a minute was wasted – the depth and breadth of this novel are breathtaking. The plot is simple enough: Bobby Western, a salvage diver, assesses a submerged plane with one passenger and the black box mysteriously missing. Western is then shadowed by (unnamed, faceless) agents. This plot, though, is merely a stepping-off point. ‘The passenger’ is really Bobby, travelling through life. He’s not been provided with a map.

Bobby’s the son of a physicist who was involved in the making of the atomic bomb. He trained as a physicist himself. His sister, Alice, is a mathematician. Her intelligence is stratospheric but her mental health is fragile. The siblings’ love for each other is singular. Alice’s death haunts Bobby and he struggles to find meaning in his existence.

Alice has her own narrative (with chapters in italics) documenting the psychotic visions of her schizophrenia. The characterisation within her hallucinations is a unique blend of tragedy and comedy. The one constant is The Thalidomide Kid, a short-statured ringleader with flippers for arms who arranges vaudeville-style acts for Alice in the hope of making her life more bearable. Both are disappointed in the quality of the entertainment.

Bobby tries to comprehend the vicissitudes of life, which has now been taken out of his control. His dialogue with secondary characters reads like a play, with snappy two-handed repartee and stand-alone soliloquies. Chief among these characters is Kline, a detective Bobby hires (with funds now frozen by the authorities) to investigate his options. As an aside, Kline has a convincing argument as to those responsible for JFK’s assassination. The ‘wise fool’ literary paradox is also explored with Jeffery, an asylum inmate and friend of Alice.

The narrative pays homage to the absurdism of Beckett (even paraphrasing his famous, ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on,’), while also evoking the psychological self-exploration of a Stoppard play. This is a story of life, love, loss, fate and agency. Any number of sentences are philosophical bones the reader can take away and chew on. It’s extraordinary literature and deserves way more than five stars.

Book reviewed by Bob Moore

Reader Comments

Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all reviews

Latest Books For Great Conversation

Fiction

Fiction

Non-Fiction

Non-Fiction

The Latest List