It took me a while—as everything McCarthy has written has—but The Passenger was my ninth read of the year.
And what can I say about this piece? I almost don’t know what I’ve read. It doesn’t make sense, and there’s no neat ending, and I can’t help but feel that that’s the point.
It opens with Bobby, a salvage diver, coming across a crashed plane with a missing passenger. Yet, the novel doesn’t occupy itself with solving this mystery. Instead, it delights itself by creating more.
The story spirals outwards.
An unnamed agency is after Bobby because of what he saw on the ocean floor. Bobby’s sister is dead by suicide a decade before the novel begins. She hallucinates a cast of characters, the chief of which is the Thalidomide Kid, a caustic enigma. Bobby’s father helped make the atomic bomb. Countless debates on God, life, death, physics, morality, and sin clutter the pages. Time seems to move forward and backwards at the exact moment.
Does any of this make sense to you?
It didn’t make sense to me.
And it was beautiful.
Please read it.
Understand it—or don’t.
Isn’t that life?
Confusing and beautiful?