The Passenger

Hardcover, 400 pages

Published Oct. 25, 2022 by Knopf.

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4 stars (10 reviews)

Nominee for Best Historical Fiction (2022) 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 …

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What else?

4 stars

The best moments in Cormac McCarthy's last novel are dialogues that thread out different philosophies. They mingle the threat of nuclear war with fear of surveillance, weang physics and mathematics with literature and drama. It feels like a culmination of McCarthy's life's work, with thoughts on violence, friendship and major moments in 20th Century US history central to a story that is primarily about loss. The prose is addictively brilliant.

The beauty of the book culminates in a wonderful final section that is heartbreaking, and devastating, and perfect. It is a fitting half-farewell (accompanied by Stella Maris, released alongside this book).

An evocative, moody, where-is-this-going?

No rating

At first this books seems like a dabbling in genre like The Road (oh, another post-apocalyptic story) but then, like The Road, you forget about that and get drawn in by the mood and evocative prose. It's almost all discourse, similar to the end of No Country for Old Men, challenging with the long dialogue (and topics ranging from the mundane to subatomic physics) and you really have to pay attention to keep track of who's saying what, but nevertheless absorbing. Story-wise, it may leave you unsatisfied, but you're at least left with a writing lesson and a desire to read the sequel/prequel.

Morose and thoughtful and McCarthy

5 stars

Very literary. There is setting and character and relationships. That's it. The plot is interesting in that it is never really what you expect it to be. The main thrust of the novel is an exploration of the mind and spirit and mythology and state of being.

Only mature and focused readers will "get" this novel, but if they do, it's a real treat created to make them think and reflect. And of course, as always, McCarthy's prose is so very elegant. Loved it.

UPDATE: I can't stop thinking about this book. I changed my review from 3.5 to 4.75. it may be a 5-star review in another month of musing. It is just so good.

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