Having presciently probed a world threatened by toxins and terrorism in his first two novels, LeClair now creates a protagonist in Passing On who just may have found the secret of living forever.
Michael Keever — introduced to us in LeClair’s first novel, Passing Off — has started a business called “Terminal Tours” that takes dying patients on the “final trip” of their choice before the truly terminal passage. Keever takes a woman to Greece to run the original marathon route. An old man seeks a cure at Lourdes. A young boy meets his NBA idol in Cleveland. Eventually overwhelmed by the dying, Keever wants to end Terminal Tours, but decides to take a friend, his former physical therapist, on one last trip: to mausoleums in Turkey, Egypt, and India. When the therapist recovers her health — and libido — by visiting sites of death, however, Keever must either face an open-ended, and anything-but-terminal, tour or return to his wife and daughter.
Passing On is a lively, unsentimental, and often very funny literary excursion into the human response(s) to mortality and to the fear, anger, deceptions, longings, and, finally, courage, that accompany men and women to the end of the road. Original in its wistful perspective on both the familiar and the exotic, droll in its depiction of family conflicts and individual insecurities, Passing On braids the multiple meanings of its title — dying, traveling, forsaking an opportunity, leaving behind an inheritance — into an ultimate, and ultimately hopeful, fiction.
Acclaim for Passing On
Often blackly humorous but never ghoulish...takes on issues—with humor and irony—not many a serious novelist tackles these days. It’s a winner, worth a shot.
— James M. Mellard, American Book Review
(Read the full review here.)
Praise for Tom LeClair’s Previous Novels
“In the fierce unfinished business of Kurdistan, Tom LeClair has
found the documentary edge and human center that make Well-Founded
Fear a resourceful and moving work of fiction.”
— Don DeLillo
“Chilling and authentic. A novel about political asylum, about
a forgotten people, and about the trust between individuals that is the
most fragile sanctuary of all.”
— Joseph McElroy
“It’s the courage to be ambiguous that makes Well-Founded
Fear horribly compelling and yet more horribly realistic in the tradition
— Melvin Bukiet, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Compelling, as much psychodrama as thriller.”
— Publishers Weekly
“For all its flashy ball-handling and dead-on outside shot, Passing
Off is a deeply literary work of art and politics, probing identity,
representation, ecology, and, of course, our desperate, down-to-the-buzzer
game of words.”
— Richard Powers
“A slam-dunk of a novel. By putting us into the head of a basketball
player, Tom LeClair gives us a terrifically interesting look at life on
and off the court, at Greece, at misaimed political ideals.”
— Rosellen Brown
“One of the most literate and entertaining sports novels of the
decade… Passing Off is a fascinating book.”
— Frederick McKissack Jr., The Washington Post
About the Author
In addition to his novels, Well-Founded Fear and Passing Off, Tom LeClair has published two books of literary criticism, The Art of Excess and In the Loop, and coedited a collection of literary interviews, Anything Can Happen. He has reviewed books for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Nation, Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Book magazine, and American Book Review. LeClair is currently Nathaniel Ropes Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati, where he can be reached at Thomas.LeClair@uc.edu.