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Book Nook: The Passenger, by Lisa Lutz

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Lisa Lutz gave us one of the standout novels of 2016. "The Passenger" was so clever, so enthralling, so devilishly twisted, that I had Lisa on the program for the hardcover release early in the year, then after I had spoken to her that first time I was so enchanted by her wit (and her novel) that I invited her back to the program for another visit when the book was issued in paperback later in the year.

During that first interview Lisa suggested that I might also enjoy the work of Megan Abbott. I tracked down Megan's latest novel and I loved it. Later on I had Megan on the program and she was also a wonderful writer to interview. You see, just because an author has written a lovely book it doesn't always translate that they will be able to do an interview of that same dazzling quality. Actually I have had interviews with a few who had written books I adored and despite my enthusiasm for their work conducting a conversation with them was about as much fun as removing splinters. Mono-syllable responses. Lack of warmth. They would probably rather being doing anything besides talking to me. Or so it seemed. That is just the way it goes sometimes. One never knows.

You could assume that after I had had Lisa on the show that first time that booking a second interview with her might have been simpler than eating that last piece of pie. Well, it wasn't. I contacted her directly and we did the dance. I asked for another interview. She wasn't sure. I kept asking. She kept the door open but it took a while to make it happen. Fortunately, I'm an obstinate person. I don't surrender easily.
 

I'm so glad we could do this second interview because we were able to explore some new territory in this one. "The Passenger" is a story about identity. As the book begins a woman has found her husband at the foot of the staircase. He's dead. So she calls 911, right? Nope. She flees. Then for a large portion of the story she's on the run. She's hiding out and shifting from one new identity to the next.

Why is she doing this? We're not sure. She's afraid of something. And since she ran away and left her husband like that she's a suspect in the investigation into the cause of his demise. At the ends of chapters there are e-mail snippets between this woman and some unknown person. These little clues strewn throughout the novel eventually provide some hints as to who this woman used to be and who she might eventually become. Such a tantalizing mystery. After reading it you'll probably consider who you really are. Are you the person you present to  the world? Or, are you somebody else? A person nobody really knows. Not even you.

The Book Nook on WYSO is made possible by six local library systems in southwest Ohio:  the Greene County Public LibraryWashington-Centerville Public Library, MidPointe Library SystemClark County Public Library, Dayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.

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Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them.  Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.