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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.
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 ›
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.
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.
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 had an extremely hard time learning to read this book and in fact I was just going to throw it away after about 100n pages. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Donald T. McDougall
The writing in this book is amazing and beautiful. I just couldn't stand to read graphic depictions of suffering any more, so I quit midway through. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Jacqueline G. May
The character Suttree in Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name represents is flawed to perfection. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Casey R. McCarthy
got a good review in The Week; never read him before and it is quite an introduction to the machinations of the english language; wow! Read morePublished 1 month ago by mike v
Cormac McCarthy used his genius grant to write blood meridian the best american novel since beloved.This book got him the macartur genius grant. Bring your dictionary. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Don Shipp