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The Passenger
Cover of The Passenger
The Passenger
Borrow Borrow
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Road returns with the first of a two-volume masterpiece: The Passenger is the story of a salvage diver, haunted by loss, afraid of the watery deep, pursued for a conspiracy beyond his understanding, and longing for a death he cannot reconcile with God.
A NEW YORK TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
“McCarthy returns with a one-two punch...a welcome return from a legend." —Esquire

Look for Stella Maris, the second volume in The Passenger series, available now.
1980, PASS CHRISTIAN, MISSISSIPPI: It is three in the morning when Bobby Western zips the jacket of his wet suit and plunges from the Coast Guard tender into darkness. His dive light 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 flight bag, 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 barrooms 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.
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Road returns with the first of a two-volume masterpiece: The Passenger is the story of a salvage diver, haunted by loss, afraid of the watery deep, pursued for a conspiracy beyond his understanding, and longing for a death he cannot reconcile with God.
A NEW YORK TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
“McCarthy returns with a one-two punch...a welcome return from a legend." —Esquire

Look for Stella Maris, the second volume in The Passenger series, available now.
1980, PASS CHRISTIAN, MISSISSIPPI: It is three in the morning when Bobby Western zips the jacket of his wet suit and plunges from the Coast Guard tender into darkness. His dive light 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 flight bag, 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 barrooms 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.
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Excerpts-
  • From the cover I

    This then would be Chicago in the winter of the last year of her life. In a week’s time she would return to Stella Maris and from there wander away into the bleak Wisconsin woods. The Thalidomide Kid found her in a roominghouse on Clark Street. Near North Side. He knocked at the door. Unusual for him. Of course she knew who it was. She’d been expecting him. And anyway it wasnt really a knock. Just a sort of slapping sound.

    He paced up and back at the foot of her bed. He stopped to speak and thought better of it and paced again, kneading his hands before him like the villain in a silent film. Except of course they werent really hands. Just flippers. Sort of like a seal has. In the left of which he now cradled his chin as he paused and stood to study her. Back by popular demand, he said. In the flesh.

    It took you long enough to get here.

    Yeah. The lights were against us all the way.

    How did you know which room it was?

    Easy. Room 4-C. I foresaw it. What are you using for money?

    I’ve still got money.

    The Kid looked around. I like what you’ve done with the place. Maybe we can tour the garden after tea. What are your plans?

    I think you know what my plans are.

    Yeah. Things dont look too promising, do they?

    Nothing’s forever.

    You leaving a note?

    I’m writing my brother a letter.

    A wintry summary I’ll wager.

    The Kid was at the window looking out at the raw cold. The snowy park and the frozen lake beyond. Well, he said. Life. What can you say? It’s not for everybody. Jesus, the winters are confining.

    Is that it?

    Is what it.

    Is that all you have to say?

    I’m thinking.

    He was pacing again. Then he stopped. What if we packed up and just skedaddled?

    It wouldnt make any difference.

    What if we stayed?

    What, another eight years of you and your pennydreadful friends?

    Nine, Mathgirl.

    Nine then.

    Why not?

    No thank you.

    He paced. Slowly rubbing his small scarred head. He looked like he’d been brought into the world with icetongs. He stopped at the window again. You’ll miss us, he said. We’ve come a long way together.

    Sure, she said. It’s been just wonderful. Look. This is all beside the point. Nobody’s going to miss anybody.

    We didnt even have to come, you know.

    I dont know what you had to do. I’m not conversant with your duties. I never was. And now I dont care.

    Yeah. You always did think the worst.

    And was seldom disappointed.

    Not every ectromelic hallucination who shows up in your boudoir on your birthday is out to get you. We tried to spread a little sunshine in a troubled world. What’s wrong with that?

    It’s not my birthday. And I think we know what it is you’ve been spreading. Anyway, you’re not going to get in my good graces so just forget it.

    You dont have any good graces. You’re fresh out.

    All the better.

    The Kid was looking around the room. Jesus, he said. This place really sucks. Did you see what just crossed the floor? What, are we completely out of Zyklon B? You were never exactly Mama’s little housekeeper but I think you’ve outdone yourself here. Time was you wouldnt be caught dead in a dump like this. Are you seeing to your person?

    That’s none of your business.

    One more in a long history of unkempt premises. Yeah, well. You dont know what’s in the offing, do you? If you’ll pardon the pun. Ever thought about taking the veil? Okay. Just thought I’d...
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.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 27, 2022
    McCarthy returns 16 years after his Pulitzer-winning The Road with a rich story of an underachieving salvage diver in 1980 New Orleans, the first in a two-volume work. Bobby Western, son of a nuclear physicist who worked on the atomic bomb, is tasked with investigating a private plane crash in the Gulf. The plane’s crew is dead, the black box is missing, and one passenger is unaccounted for. Soon, agents of the U.S. government begin to harass Western and his coworker, then this colleague turns up dead. This thriller narrative is intertwined with the story of Western’s sister, Alicia, a mathematical genius who had schizophrenia and died by suicide. In flashbacks of Alicia’s hallucinations, vaudevillian characters perform for her—most notably, a character named the Thalidomide Kid. Alicia and the Kid engage in numerous conversations about arcane philosophy, theology, and physics—staples of the philosopher-tramps, vagabonds, and sociopaths of McCarthy’s canon, though their presence doesn’t feel quite as thematically grounded as they do in his masterworks. Still, he dazzles with his descriptions of a beautifully broken New Orleans: “The rich moss and cellar smell of the city thick on the night air. A cold and skullcolored moon.... At times the city seemed older than Nineveh.” The book’s many pleasures will leave readers aching for the final installment.

  • AudioFile Magazine Candidly, some works of fiction--those in which tone, literary style, and sound matter--work very well (maybe better) as audiobooks. The protagonists of this audiobook are superbly portrayed by MacLeod Andrews and Julia Whelan. They are gifted mimics and switch off in this braided tale of loss, hopeless love, and social collapse. Both plumb the depths of the wounded brother and sister Bobby and Alicia Western, who are lost souls in this excursion into the dark, soul-depleting demimonde of Cormac McCarthy. Whelan and MacLeod put authentic voices to the dual protagonists' thoughts and conversations that make the characters materialize--those who are human, anyway. Some actors in this drama are comical figments of one character's imagination--glib vaudevillian creations of a schizophrenic mind. A.D.M. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2022, Portland, Maine
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