Stella Maris

, #2

Paperback, 208 pages

English language

Published Aug. 6, 2022 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

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4 stars (2 reviews)

1972, BLACK RIVER FALLS, WISCONSIN: Alicia Western, twenty years old, with forty thousand dollars in a plastic bag, admits herself to the hospital. A doctoral candidate in mathematics at the University of Chicago, Alicia has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and she does not want to talk about her brother, Bobby. Instead, she contemplates the nature of madness, the human insistence on one common experience of the world; she recalls a childhood where, by the age of seven, her own grandmother feared for her; she surveys the intersection of physics and philosophy; and she introduces her cohorts, her chimeras, the hallucinations that only she can see. All the while, she grieves for Bobby, not quite dead, not quite hers. Told entirely through the transcripts of Alicia’s psychiatric sessions, Stella Maris is a searching, rigorous, intellectually challenging coda to The Passenger, a philosophical inquiry that questions our notions of God, truth, …

3 editions

reviewed Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy (The Passenger, #2)

A Dialogue as a Parting Gift

5 stars

Cormac McCarthy concluded his life with two books about two siblings, brother Bobby (the protagonist of the excellent The Passenger) and sister Alicia of Stella Maris. The former is a physics whiz, the latter a maths genius. The trouble (or karma) of their family, including their father's involvement with the Manhattan Project, haunt them.

Both books are philosophical musings on meaning and structure in a strange life. This one is a real gift. The entire story is a dialogue between Alicia and a counsellor in the Stella Maris institute. Alicia muses on life and maths. The dialogues are like Plato's, with different big ideas being drawn out and then punctuated with a touching story of family, hallucinatory friendship, longing and heartache. The dialogue evolves over the 'sessions' so seamlessly that it is impossible not to get lost on the journey with the duo. The questioner often pulls back …

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  • psychological
  • narrativa americana