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The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy review – a deep dive into the abyss

A salvage diver plumbs mysterious depths in Cormac McCarthy’s glorious sunset song of a novel It’s the depth of the darkness that spooks Bobby Western, the haunted man at the heart of Cormac McCarthy’s extraordinary new novel. Western works as a salvage diver in the Mexican Gulf, tending to sunken barges and stricken oil rigs. He’s kicking up clouds in the clay-coloured water and pressing further into the unknown with every weighted step. His colleagues are blase but experience has taught him to take care. He asks: “You ever bump into something down there that you didn’t know what it was?” Published a full 16 years after the Pulitzer prize-winning The Road, The Passenger is like a submerged ship itself; a gorgeous ruin in the shape of a hardboiled noir thriller. McCarthy’s generational saga covers everything from the atomic bomb to the Kennedy assassination to the principles of quantum mechanics. It’s by turns muscular and maudlin, immersive and indulgent. Every novel, said Iris Murdoch, is the wreck of a perfect idea. This one is enormous. It’s got locked doors and blind turns. It contains skeletons and buried gold. Continue reading...

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