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Suttreeby Cormac Mccarthy
I read Suttree twenty years ago and was floored by the writing and the story. It is a poignant tale of a man choosing to live his life as he wants, turning his back on his family and their considerable wealth. Jerome Charyn wrote a review of the book in the New York Times, Feb. 18, 1979. I figured I couldn't do any better than he did: "Suttree himself is a lost creature who can find no real hook into this world. He can touch another human being for a moment, drink beer with a friend, fish, make love, but he has to move on, jump downriver, or hide in the dead, nightmare city. The book comes at us like a horrifying flood. The language licks, batters, wounds a poetic, troubled rush of debris. It is personal and tough, without that boring neatness and desire for resolution that you can get in any well-made novel. Cormac McCarthy has little mercy to spare, for his characters or himself. His text is broken, beautiful and ugly in spots. Mr. McCarthy won't soothe us with a quiet song. Suttree is like a good, long scream in the ear."
Synopses & Reviews
By the author of Blood Meridian and All the Pretty Horses, Suttree is the story of Cornelius Suttree, who has forsaken a life of privilege with his prominent family to live in a dilapidated houseboat on the Tennessee River near Knoxville. Remaining on the margins of the outcast community there — a brilliantly imagined collection of eccentrics, criminals, and squatters — he rises above the physical and human squalor with detachment, humor, and dignity.
"With this novel Mr. McCarthy's bid to be accepted as a major American writer wins the pot. He is good, very good, and admirers of The Orchard Keeper, Outer Dark, and Child of God will rejoice. This is perhaps the best novel of river life in midcontinent America since Huckleberry Finn. Mr. McCarthy's Knoxville and his Tennessee speak to us in language so true and pure it hurts. A major-league truant (as was Huck), Suttree sets up camp on the river and defies time and reality to lure him back. He makes his point the hard way, and he gets hurt; but he makes his point. He cannot go the way of the city rat, Harrogate, who turns to crime; nor of Abednego Jones, the huge black who relies on his brute strength to see him through; nor of his crooked-as-a-dog's-hind-leg friends who dredge for mussel shells at 40 dollars the ton. And he most certainly cannot go home again, for that way lies capitulation. So Suttree stays on the river and looks at life through as uncomplicated a glass as he can find. The view is worth the price of the ride." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
"Suttree contains a humour that is Faulknerian in its gentle wryness, and a freakish imaginative flair reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor." The Times Literary Supplement (London)
"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
"Perhaps the closest we have to a genuine heir to the Faulknerian tradition...[McCarthy's] novels have a stark, mythic quality that is very much their own." Washington Post
"Cormac McCarthy gives us a sense of river life that reads like a doomed Huckleberry Finn." the New York Times Book Review
"Cormac McCarthy gives us a sense of river life that reads like a doomed Huckleberry Finn." The New York Times Book Review
"Suttree may be [McCarthy's] magnum opus...probably the funniest and most unbearably sad of [his] books...which seem to me unsurpassed in American literature." Stanley Booth
By the author of Blood Meridian and All the Pretty Horses, Suttree is the story of Cornelius Suttree, who has forsaken a life of privilege with his prominent family to live in a dilapidated houseboat on the Tennessee River near Knoxville. Remaining on the margins of the outcast community there--a brilliantly imagined collection of eccentrics, criminals, and squatters--he rises above the physical and human squalor with detachment, humor, and dignity.
About the Author
Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island in1933 and spent most of his childhood near Knoxville, Tennessee. He served in the U.S. Air Force and later studied at the University of Tennessee. In 1976 he moved to El Paso, Texas, where he lives today. McCarthy's fiction parallels his movement from the Southeast to the West--the first four novels being set in Tennessee, the last three in the Southwest and Mexico. The Orchard Keeper (1965) won the Faulkner Award for a first novel; it was followed by Outer Dark (1968), Child of God (1973), Suttree (1979), Blood Meridian (1985), All the Pretty Horses, which won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award for fiction in 1992, and The Crossing.
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