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471 pages, Paperback
First published May 1, 1979
The Patch where Harrogate fell in lust.
Where hunters and woodcutters once slept in their boots by the dying light of their thousand fires and went on, old teutonic forebears with eyes incandesced by the visionary light of a massive rapacity, wave on wave of the violent and the insane, their brains stoked with spoorless analogues of all that was, lean aryans with their abrogate Semitic chapbook reenacting the dramas and parable therein...I wish I could be intelligent enough to understand, much less comprehend, all this on a quick read.
...Gray vines coiled leftward in this northern hemisphere, what winds them shapes the dogwhelk's shell. ... A dim world receded above his upturned toes, shapes of skewed shacks erupted bluely in the niggard lamplight. ... Dim scenes pooling in the summer night, wan ink wash of junks tilting against a paper sky, rorschach boatmen poling mutely over a mooncobbled sea. ... As he rocks in his rusty pannier to the sea's floor in a drifting stain of guano.
... Bechrismed with scented oils he lay boneless in a cold euphoria.
"Here at the creek mouth the fields run on to the river, the mud deltaed and baring out of its rich alluvial harbored bones and dead waste, a wrack of cratewood and condoms and fruitrinds. Old tins and jars and ruined household artifacts that rear from the fecal mire of the flats like landmarks in the trackless vales of dementia praecox. A world beyond all fantasy, malevolent and tactile and dissociate, the blown light-bulbs like shorn polyps semitranslucent and skullcolored bobbing blindly down and spectral eyes of oil and now and again the beached and stinking forms of foetal humans bloated like young birds mooneyed and bluish or stale gray. Beyond in the dark the river flows in a sluggard ooze toward southern seas, running down out of the rain flattened corn and petty crops and riverloam gardens of upcountry landkeepers, grating along like bonedust, afreight with the past, dreams dispersed in the water someway, nothing ever lost. Houseboats ride at their hawsers. The neap mud along the shore lies ribbed and slick like the cavernous flitch of some beast hugely foundered and beyond the country rolls away to the south to the mountains."
"The rest indeed is silence. It has begun to rain. Light summer rain, you can see it falling slant in the town lights. The river lies in a grail of quietude. Here from the bridge the world below seems a gift of simplicity. Curious, no more."
"Suttree entered the vestibule and paused by a concrete seashell filled with sacred waters. He stood in the open door. He entered. Down the long linoleum aisle he went, and with care, tottered not once. A musty aftertaste of incense hung in the air. A thousand hours or more he's spent in this sad chapel he. Spurious acolyte, dreamer impenitent. Before this tabernacle where the wise high God himself lies sleeping inn his golden cup.
He looked about. Beyond the chancel gate three garish altars rose like gothic wedding cakes in carven marble. Crocketed and gargoyled, the steeples iced with rows of marble frogs ascending. Here a sallow plaster Christ. Agonized beneath his mecuriate crown. Spiked palms and riven belly, there beneath the stark ribs the cleanlipped spear-wound. His caved haunches loosely girdled, feet crossed and fastened by a single nail. To the left his mother. Mater alchimia in skyblue robes, she treads a snake with her chipped and naked feet. Before her on the altar gutter two small licks of flame in burgundy lampions. In the sculptor's art there always remains something unsaid, something waiting. This statuary will pass. This kingdom of fear and ashes."