by Cormac McCarthy
Translated from English (United States) by Serge Chauvin
L’Olivier, 544 p., 24,50 €
“It had snowed a bit overnight and his frozen hair was gold and crystal and his eyes were cold and hard as stone. One of her yellow boots had slipped and was sticking up in the snow below her. It is with these few evocative words that this novel opens. The scary image of a young woman hanging from a tree in a winter landscape. The latter is the sister of Bobby Western, the main character.
A scientist by training, he became a racing driver in Europe, then a professional diver, a specialist in the exploration of wrecks off the coast of Louisiana. When the story begins, he searches the wreckage of a plane stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. The passengers are still seated in their places but one of them is missing as well as the black box of the aircraft.
A thrilling thriller
Back in New Orleans, Bobby feels like he’s being stalked by guys “dressed like Mormons.” His apartment was searched and returned, one of his colleagues was found dead. Bobby decides to flee. All the ingredients are there for a thrilling and hair-raising thriller across America.
It does not take long to discover that our hero with the improbable name does not flee only these formidable hunters. He is also haunted by a deep sense of guilt linked to the death ten years earlier of his sister Alicia, with whom he was deeply in love. He was unable to prevent the suicide of this child prodigy, of a beauty to die for, mathematician, musician, anorexic and paranoid schizophrenic whose visual and auditory hallucinations punctuate the story. Nine confusing chapters, in italics, where we meet a multitude of beings and other creatures, each stranger than the next. Added to Bobby’s feeling of guilt is the weight of a complicated filiation to assume. His scientist father participated in the creation of the atomic bomb helping to precipitate the world towards its end…
A return awaited for sixteen years
Welcome to the world of 89-year-old Cormack McCarthy, whose fans have been waiting sixteen years for his return. Since the cult apocalyptic story La Route, Pulitzer Prize, but also Le Méridien de sang or La trilogie des confins, No, this country is not for the old man… That is to say a dozen novels, sometimes adapted to the cinema.
It’s done. The Passenger, the first part of a diptych which will be completed by Stella Maris on May 5, keeps its promises by immersing us in a metaphysical, ambitious, heterogeneous, sometimes hermetic thriller. A concentrate of literary dazzling, singular and powerful narrations where one gets lost with delight to better find all the creative power of this author, his atmospheres, his style and his obsessions.
The author takes us from one bar to another. It destabilizes us by multiplying the back and forth in time, the digressions. He seduces us with his style but also with his characters: we come across many and of all kinds in this novel, including half-human creatures, hustlers, philosophers… We witness incredible conversations on equally incredible themes. , here on quantum physics, there on history, firearms, the loss of a loved one, mourning, life, death…
In this novel, the creative power of this nonagenarian writer is at its peak. A literary excursion that compensates for these years of waiting.