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‘Suttree’ by Cormac McCarthy reads as a dandy classic novel

Book Cover
Book Cover



(Current fiction & past quality fiction)

Albuquerque libraries stock this novel as a book, an eBook, and as an audio book, with good reason. Here’s just one excerpt from the more than 600 reviews available via the library system:

“The heavily stylized prose hearkens back to the works of Joyce, Steinbeck, Algren, Faulkner, and Celine. Indeed, I have yet to encounter another book that so perfectly synthesizes these five unique voices . . ."

Coincidentally, you know that Examiner doesn’t often venture into the “blogosphere” but accidentally caught John Sepich’s take on the Cormac McCarthy masterpiece only just recently read by Examiner:

“The novel is like a 470-page Tom Waits song -- blood and whiskey and men with names like J-Bone and Cabbage and Daddy Watson and Ab Jones and Hoghead and Boneyard. Living under bridges when it’s ten below and falling, watching lazy old tomcats on a midnight spree, nobody up except the moon and thee. There are echoes of Bob Dylan, too -- one of Suttree’s destitute friends is a ragman, like the one who draws circles up and down the block in “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again.” -- Copyright © 2009 by John Emil Sepich

It is definitely Faulkner-tainted glory and Steinbeck-incisive writing. “Suttree” (Vintage International) by Cormac McCarthy shows off some of the finest writing Examiner has seen in a long time. As the reviewer for The New York Times put it, “The language licks, batters, wounds -- a poetic, troubled rush of debris.”

Wrote Stanley Booth for Amazon:

“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.”

The publisher wrote: “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.”