Dane Despres's Reviews > Suttree
by Cormac McCarthy
This past week, I finished my three summers-long journey through the McCarthy oeuvre with his plays/screenplays and this hulking beast. After trudging, compelled as though bound and roughly led with a rope, through Bolaño's mouth-gapingly tremendous 2666, I worried about how McCarthy would look through my newly-racked senses. In a few tentative words, as I'm still in the post-read process of resorting my atoms, I guess the loudest notions I'm left with are:
A) I love McCarthy in the way that one should love God, with a respect like fear. How else should I feel when faced with a voice so prescient, a creator of a (still expanding) universe so simultaneously varied, deep, and whole? Maybe like so many of his characters and novels am I only able to comprehend a sort of unnameable truth and/or plan once the entirety of path (of his works, in my case) has been walked. I started with his more popular/popularized-via-film titles and then went back to the start. Since I began, I've taught No Country... a couple times, my expanding perspective of McCarthy lighting overlooked corners and crevices in the text every time, so that what read for me in 2007 as the best screenplay-moonlighting-as-a-novel, has now blossomed into a mirrored McCarthy fun house: Chigurh as Judge Holden as ever-looming Nihilism as the cannibalistic bandits on The Road . If you've read his two latest novels and been left questioning the big deal in the wake of his sparse poetics, I can honestly say, with his entire universe in mind, that McCarthy's economy is the hard won efficiency of a master.
B) Suttree, in particular, starkly exposed the self-flagellating base of my McCarthy worship. I would not fear him so if he did not write the inner squalor of my soul. In the character of Suttree, I found explicit reflection of my suppressed rumblings. I lived a life alternately mine while reading this novel and realized at its completion that this has always been so with McCarthy. Not unlike the dialectic of The Sunset Limited, Suttree and Blood Meridian speak to each other in the middle of McCarthy's catalogue, the friction and tension between these fraternal twin keystones holding up the arc of his artistry.