I Am the Passenger

It’s funny because I’m not usually as angry as my last few posts have hinted at. I do have angry thoughts, but no one in my real life ever provokes them out of me. It isn’t until I read something that pisses me off enough that I have no other option but to write about it to allow it to pass. Eh, whatever.

But that’s not what this is about. I just wanted to talk about Cormac McCarthy a little since he died this week. I hadn’t read anything by him until I picked up The Passenger, which with along with Stella Maris were his last novels published last year, back in April. I knew about his acclaim, with “Better Than Food” YouTuber Clifford Sargent declaring he’s the best (at-the-time) living American writer we have. While I am skeptical of the hyperbole, I have no doubt that McCarthy was one of the best.

Well, I finished The Passenger last night, and… I don’t know. I can’t say I understood what was going on the whole time. I understood the main character Robert Western, a salvage diver and physics guru, was running away from his past, from something that even he didn’t know. Or he didn’t really seem to care. He just wanted to run towards the end, but he didn’t have the suicidal tendencies of his sister (and surprise surprise) the unconsummated love of his life who was also a math genius. While mostly set in New Orleans, he eventually winds up in Ibiza and… I don’t know? The novel ends.

I had a hard time getting through the book initially. I think because I saw the hype and was expecting it to hook me right away, I couldn’t be bothered with it until it did finally hook be about halfway through. Or maybe it was my own stupid malaise or whatever-it-is-that-has-been-going-on-with-me-for-the-past-several-years. But there were great captivating parts of it. One part that especially grabbed me was in one of Alicia’s delirium scenes (written in italics),

What you write down becomes fixed. It takes on the constraints of any tangible entity. It collapses into a reality estranged from the realm of its creation. It’s a marker. A road ign. You have stopped to get your bearings, but at a price. You’ll never know where i might have gone if you’d left it alone to go there.

p. 297

That hit me like a bullet. I realized that is part of why I don’t write in a journal/diary despite knowing I probably should.

I don’t know if I can say I liked this book or not. Perhaps I need to reread it. Perhaps I need to reassess it after reading Stella Maris. But not quite yet. I need something easier, so I’m going with The Meaning of Mariah Carey (which I hear is pretty damn good.)