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Suttree Paperback – May 5, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“All of McCarthy’s books present the reviewer with the same welcome difficulty. They are so good that one can hardly say how good they really are. . . . Suttree may be his magnum opus. Its protagonist, Cornelius Suttree, has forsaken his prominent family to live in a dilapidated houseboat among the inhabitants of the demimonde along the banks of the Tennessee River. His associates are mostly criminals of one sort or another, and Suttree is, to say the least, estranged from what might be called normal society. But he is so involved with life (and it with him) that when in the end he takes his leave, the reader’s heart goes with him. Suttree is probably the funniest and most unbearably sad of McCarthy’s books . . . which seem to me unsurpassed in American literature.” —Stanley Booth
From the Hardcover edition.
Cormac McCarthy is known for his profoundly dark fiction and masterful reflections on the nature of good and evil. Visit Amazon's Cormac McCarthy Page.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is fair to speculate that this work was special to McCarthy since he was drawing a portrait of the town and era in which he grew up ( Knoxville, Tennessee in the 1950's ). Others, who are familiar with the work of William Faulkner ( as I am not ) will be better equipped to discuss whether this "southern" novel bears any major resemblance to the late master from Mississippi. My "take" on "SUTTREE" can only come ( as is natural ) from past literary experiences and, perhaps more importantly, a particular "world view". Although stronger and more learned readers will undoubtedly shed more light on the work, I hope nonetheless that the following thoughts will help others reflect on "SUTTREE" and decide for themselves what it's "all about".
After a short and soaring descriptive prelude ( a wasteland grotesquerie ), the novel's namesake Cornelius Suttree is introduced. Appropriately enough, this first glimpse takes place alongside the silent and abused Tennessee River, a Styx-like emblem of eternity running through the mid 20th century "Hades" of Knoxville, where Suttree lives on a rundown houseboat.Read more ›
in response to those that deem the work short on plot, i just wanted to mention this....i could be remembering wrong but i am pretty sure that this is a somewhat autobiographical work that focuses on mccarthy quitting the drink and leaving tennessee for texas...so this is not necessarily the same kind of work that the border trilogy or blood meridian are.
something interesting for me in reading these reviews is that faulkner suffered from the same kind of criticisms, especially while he was alive...lack of structure and coherent plot...
i do believe that he is the greatest living american author...if not, i would love to find the person that beats him.
But down to some philosophical nuts and bolts: This is a dark novel displaying a visionary medieval mindset, much like Lowry's Under The Volcano (To my mind, the only other novelist of pure genius of this century..). It is the seemingly effortless interweaving of the visionary with the mundane that make this novel so astounding. We are witnesses to page upon page of brilliant poetic lightenings upon a tableau of "a terrestrial hell" as Suttree puts it, a place which not only he, but we all inhabit.
To quote at length: "What deity in the realms of dementia, what rabid god decocted out of the smoking lobes of hydrophobia could have devised a keeping place for souls so poor as this flesh. This mawky wormbent tabernacle."
This is the question this brilliant work thrusts before the reader in page upon glowing page.
I was introduced to this novel by a close friend who was so slammed by the impact of the first page that she had to put it down for a week just to let it sink in. I have to admit, I re-read the first 3 pages about a dozen times throughout my reading of the novel. They do pack a wallop. Actually, there are several passages in the book that so floored me I had to go back and re-read them.
The language of this tale is incredible, carefully wrought, full of fantastic words (keep a dictionary close by.) At times laconic, at times incredibly detailed. And at times so unrelentingly down and out you just have to laugh. Harold Pinter once praised Samuel Beckett saying that he 'leaves no stone unturned, no maggot lonely.' I'd say the same for McCarthy in this novel. Who else could generate so much sympathy for a melon-humping hayseed dork like Gene Harrogate? Or any other of the motley assemblage with whom Suttree inexplicably chooses to fraternize.
I don't want to ruin any surprises, so I'll just assure you that Suttree's immersion in debauchery and desolation is not for its own sake. The book has a heart. The book has soul to burn. This is just the best damned novel I've read in years. Maybe ever. Relish it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this when I first moved to Knoxville, TN. It was a real rush and the characters were so odd and kinky I was always drawn into their antics. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Cborges
Aa someone who knows McCarthy only though his novel Blood Meridian, this is a different turn. Although described as "humorous" I find little humor in it, yet a compelling... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Charemor
I think Cormac McCarthy is one of the best American novelists of any time, having ready several of his books, but I found this novel, Suttree, to be unreadable. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Heavy-Duty Reader
This highbrow novel was haled by the literati and cognoscenti. SUTTREE is a tale of the travails of Cornelius Suttree, a wayward, educated and privileged itinerant's trudge... Read morePublished 2 months ago by W Perry Hall
Early Cormac McCarthy definitely needs an editor to lop off 20 or 30% of the narrative. Nevertheless, the character of Suttree was quite engaging.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great book for those who love to read and are McCarthy fans -- willing to excuse sometimes overwrought prose and the sluggish progression of the non-plot. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Daniel
Love Cormac McCarthy BUT this is by far not his best work. long and meandering.Published 3 months ago by Sir Racha
this is a novel of human degradation, death, filth, deep despair,One struggles through its darkness in the hopes of finding redemption for Suttree, and one almost does. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Lois E. Meessen