Suttree, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


This compelling novel has as its protagonist Cornelius Suttree, living alone and in exile in a disintegrating houseboat on the wrong side of the Tennessee River close by Knoxville.

He stays at the edge of an outcast community inhabited by eccentrics, criminals and the poverty-stricken.

Rising above the physical and human squalor around him, his detachment and wry humour enable him to survive dereliction and destitution with dignity. 'Suttree marks McCarthy's closest approach to autobiography and is probably the funniest and most unbearably sad of his books' Stanley Booth 'The book comes at us like a horrifying flood.

The language licks, batters, wounds - a poetic, troubled rush of debris ...Cormac McCarthy has little mercy to spare, for his characters or himself.

His text is broken, beautiful and ugly in spots ...Suttree is like a good, long scream in the ear.' Jerome Charyn, New York Times




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This was a troubling and sometimes enthralling read. The lack of traditional plot did not bother me, as the marking out of the passing seasons propelled the story along. At times McCarthy's sentences and combinations of words are brilliant, and throughout this masks the dullness of the scenes that he describes. I disagreed with the blurb on the back of my edition, which said that Suttree rises above the squalor around him. I found him to be a hard and unlovable character for most of the book. For me, the young tearaway Harrogate was the character that provided the majority of humour and energy in the narrative, and found the sections dealing with his life the most enjoyable. For me, the ending was, despite the excellent writing, a little forced and convenient. This is a book worth reading just for the incredible use of words and images that fill almost every page. The descriptions of the Tennessee River in particular are astoundingly good in their complexity and depth.

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