Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The Passenger book review

An ultra rare, 1973 Maserati Bora. Previously part of the Maserati Heritage Collection. (Image source: www.handh.co.uk)


As we’re All just passengers for a limited time upon Terra Firma…


Ah, the good ‘Ol Sea of Synchronicity constantly soaking thoust mystical Isle ‘O Nofendersville, albeit a few months ago!


As five days prior to His Death, I was introduced to the author Cormac McCarthy’s writings, having checked out No country for Old Men (2005) and The Passenger. (2022) With the latter peaking my interest since it supposedly revolved around a former Formula 2 Driver turned Salvage Wreck Diver.


And although not necessary, I “read”, Err listened to them on ‘Ol School CD Audiobook in chronological order,. Which the 2007 movie No country for Old Men won Four Oscars; Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director and Best Screenplay.


As No Country for Old Men is far more Brutal than The Passenger…


overall I enjoyed my second Cormac McCarthy novel The Passenger, albeit I found it to be a most Quirky book. And it was somewhat hard to follow the massive character topic swings! For which I could only surmise who the mystery Girl (Alicia) with imaginary visitors was?


Or why the main character Robert Western, who His friends All call Him Bobby, is having dinner with a Transgender friend? Or His flirting with women in general when He’s supposedly eternally in love with His Dead Sister. Who I was guessing was the character above? As Alicia is indeed Bobby’s sister. Whilst Bobby’s supposedly is “Off the Market”.


Suppose I paid particular Attenzione to the various female characters in both of these novels, since His New York Times Obituary article Criticized McCarthy’s lack of women characters in His work, for which I’m failing to “See” in eitherNo Country for Old Men or The Passenger.


But I have to say originally I wasn’t impressed with what I considered to be two major Gaffs relating to motorsports, which presumably only Hard Core racing Aficionados like Mwah would know…


As there had only been two references to bobby’s (Western) past as a Formula 2 driver. Beginning with the briefest mention of His being a former F2 driver giving Him the plate in His Head and rod in His leg.


Yet upon having finished Disc 3 of 11, one of His Salvage Wreck Diving partners Red asks Him how fast do those Formula 2 cars go? Replying that Formula 1 cars can go 200mph but there’s hardly anywhere for them to go that fast, like the Mulsanne Straight. And the F2 cars don’t have speedometers and one of the problems was Stagger.


For which I had these instant reactions too! First of all, the Mulsanne Straight, which is Not “Straight” anymore, due to the necessity of two chicanes being installed to slow the prototype Sports Cars from exceeding 240mph and going Airbourne! Was “Chopped” up a long time ago, early 2000’s Me Thinks? With former F1 driver Mark Webber having survived Summersaulting in a Mercedes prototype Upon it during the 1999 race!


As the Mulsanne Straight is part of the legendous’ Circuit de la Sarthe, i.e.; 24 Heurs du Mans.


And the 24 Hours of Le Mans is arguably the most famous Sports Car race, with Formula 1 never having competed there!


Not to mention that current F1 chassis have routinely been exceeding 200mph for years, which would be easy to deduce? Since the legendary Italian circuit simply known as Monza. Whose moniker is the Temple of Speed! Once held, or still does? The outright All-time top speed of 231mph for a Formula 1 car! Although I think Valtteri Bottas exceeded that at the Mexican Grand Prix? So that’s Strike One!


Strike Two is that as far as I know, Nobody in Europe uses the word Stagger to describe tyre circumference. Since Stagger typically relates to tyres that are used for Oval racing, i.e.; Indianapolis 500. Since the tyres are made of different size from inside edge to outter edge to help the racecar turn left with less steering input!


Yet in the paragraph prior to the Formula 2 reference, bobby correctly discusses Red’s old Ford Galaxie and correct Ford engine sizes, i.e.; 390 vs. 428cid, (Cubic Inch Displacement) along with CJ Heads, etc. Whilst giving a “shout Out” to a very unknown 1970’s Italian Sports Car, the Maserati Bora. Which I agree with McCarthy is an stunningly beautiful car!


Making me recall the one and only time I stupidly tried keeping up with one on the Freeway in Everett (WA) when going to lunch in Mukilteo. As the V-8 Bora simply “Walked Away” from my “Luxury-liner” six cylinder Nissan 280ZX, for which I was simply being stupid about! Simply Disappearing from Mwah before I wisely let off the accelerator!


As I realize today in hindsight some 35yrs later, I could have never won that race! Since the Bora  had two more engine cylinders and only one person driving it. Versus my having my good friend Randal, thy No Fenders Moniker King! Ridin’ “shotgun”, (passenger) ergo extra weight along with less horsepower!


Not having a clue about the Bora Wayback’ then. Yet Boyz’ do silly things when they’re “Young and Stupid!” But I digress…


And although I’m well aware that one cannot know everything! Since I knew that the Bora was rare, since that was my one and only encounter with one. But I’m quite surprised just learning today that only a miniscule 564 units were built for the Bora between 1971-78!


Thus leaving me feeling that if McCarthy can do research on a seemingly obscure Italian two seater Sports Car from the 1970’s. then surely He could have done equal research for His Formula 1 and F2 tidbits, Righto?


Yes, I realize I’m being overly Nitpicky here. And I enjoyed the book in general, knowing I could never write a novel like this! But I just have to chuckle over how I immediately did what most Hard Core Petrol Headz’ do when having non-mainstream motor racing in a popular novel or movie. And should be pleased that Formula 2 is being mentioned at All…


Thus finishing the book, which like I previously noted. I enjoyed very much overall, simply “listening” to the final eight Discs without critiquing it further.


Initially, I thought that the portion above were the last few, miniscule tidbits devoted to the main character’s (Bobby Western) past as a Formula 2 driver.


Before recalling one more brief mention of His racing a Lotus F2 racecar during the summer and doing so in Paris and France. While Bopping around Europe pulling said racecar in a van and trailer. Going into detail over how colin Chapman was renown for His lightweight designs…


After my initial critique above, I subsequently learned that McCarthy had begun working on The Passenger initially during the 1970’s when indeed, the Mulsanne Straight was still “straight”. So perhaps He was trying to portray that it was one of the few public roads where 1970’s Formula 1 cars, which were probably hard pressed of exceeding 200mph could do so on a public road.


But if so, then why didn’t the author write His prose in this perspective? Especially since McCarthy obviously did some research upon the esteemed Formula 1 designer and racing guru Chapman!


Whilst I still believe that the Europeans’ don’t use the term stagger. Or at least I’ve never heard so in nearly 40yrs of following F1! But I digress…


Yet I really enjoyed the struggles of Bobby overall, whose life gets completely turned upside down by “They”, the U.S. government who seize His bank account and 1973 Maserati Bora, which He enjoys taking on spirited romps of 160mph! Having also learned what year it was when surfing the web afterwards.


As I found the book to be a great introspection about life. While the book goes everywhere besides solving the initial mystery of the sunken Jet plane He and “Oiler”, another Salvage Diver are paid to investigate.


And I mean it goes everywhere! With bobby’s dead sister Alicia’s frequent visits with a “Vaudeville” Dummy who routinely rakes Her over the Coals. As Alicia is Schizophrenic and it took me a little while to deduce who Her character was.


Involving both Bobby and Alicia’s issues with their father who helped develop the Atom Bomb! To Einstein, Oppenheimer, Quantum Physics, JFK and rifle muzzle velocities! Plus what Jackie (Jacklyn Kennedy) was really doing on the “Boot” of the Presidential limousine when Her Husband was shot! Along with a Private Detective who formerly was a Fortune Teller in His Family’s circus…


While I totally love how much of the story’s written in Southern Charm, set in New Orleans, Knoxville and Warthog, Tennessee, With one of bobby’s best friends calling Him Squire. Along with one portion of the book taking on a Grapes of Wrath melancholy to Mwah…


While the Bumfiddle’ Florence librarian Marshall asked me what I thought about it? Before saying He’d heard that the second companion book Stella Maris, that I tried checking out. But had mysteriously disappeared from our library! Since their computer system claimed it was on their shelves, but Marshall and Kevin both couldn’t find it! Claims is even more confusing than The Passenger is!


Although I’ve subsequently “read” Stella Maris. Which indeed was even more Quirkier, yet enjoyable…


And that’s my 14 pesos worth upon The Passenger novel, which overall I found to be a very enjoyable book!