At the age of 80-odd, Cormac McCarthy is writing at the top of his bent. While in part it recalls earlier novels like Suttree and All the Pretty Horses, The Passenger is his most ambitious and layered work. It begins audaciously, daring the reader to follow. It mixes times and viewpoints, folding in a quasi-political conspiracy as well. Mostly—with a crucial exception-- we are in the consciousness of Bobby Western, who has loved one person in his life and will never love another. He has been a student of physics, a Formula Two driver, and a salvage diver. He is adept at the physical world (as in earlier novels, McCarthy is painstakingly exact in his descriptions of arcane technical procedures), painfully intelligent, haunted by memory, but curiously passive as his life begins to unravel in response to unexplained harassment by mysterious clandestine operatives. The insecurity of Western’s life, his incurable solitude and his descent into an elemental existence bring forth some of McCarthy’s finest meditations on human life, the non-human world, and the wreckage of history. And there’s marvelous dialogue, too-- sly, exuberant and very funny, from some unforgettable characters, some of whom are real, some otherwise.