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Suttree

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  16,584 ratings  ·  1,312 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 471 pages
Published May 1992 by Vintage International (first published May 1979)
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Julia Sutton Definitely. if you can only read one McCarthy novel, I'd read this one. And read it slowly.

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  16,584 ratings  ·  1,312 reviews


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Jeffrey Keeten
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeffrey by: On the Southern Literary Trail
Shelves: southern
"Mr. Suttree it is our understanding that at curfew rightly decreed by law and in that hour wherein nigh draws to its proper close and the new day commences and contrary to conduct befitting a person of your station you betook yourself to various low places within the shire of McAnally and there did squander several ensuing years in the company of thieves, derelicts, miscreants, pariahs, poltroons, spalpeens, curmudgeons, clotpolls, murderers, gamblers, bawds, whores, trulls, brigands, topers, ...more
karen
Aug 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
like faulkner, except good...
Michael
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: unjustly-obscure
This was my first foray into McCarthy, and what a foray it was. The prose hit me with a whallop--so dense and driving, a slow-moving ineluctable train of words that carries the reader to dark and squalid and even funny places as we follow Cornelius Suttree, a privileged son who's given it all up to live as an outcast among outcasts. This is vintage early McCarthy--before All the Pretty Horses made him more popular and, dare I say it?, somewhat less interesting.
Luís C.
I am helpless to talk about this book. There are a lot of words that I did not understand. Suttree by Cormac is a book that deserves, much like some of Malick's films. The pen of the big Mac is like a brush taking its time on the canvas, where a sentence would suffice to describe a flight of birds making crates. Here we are far from Kerouac and its small ballads on the road.
Here is lost America. At the edge of Knoxville live the outcasts, the excluded voluntary or not of the system, there are
...more
Eddie Watkins
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-fiction
Life as infinitely detailed turbid flow. Life’s flow so drenched with death there’s hardly need of another name for it; death as life’s incorporated twin. It’s all a river and it flows. Suttree is saturated with this outlook, this philosophy, though it remains unspoken, instead being simply shown, in a style itself all detail and turbid flow. In fact, the style itself is so integral to the book’s texture and meaning, and the structure of it all so structureless (being modeled on riverflow as it ...more
Lori
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite Cormac McCarthy novel so far. It’s a horrifying and funny ramble of the guy’s life. I thought it had some really good vignettes, but a lot of the time I wasn’t interested. I noticed most of the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. I’m not so moved.

There is really not much of a story. The dialogue in dialect is great. The poetic spill of words is incredible. You could draw a bath of them and soak, so long as you’re not too fussy about the cigarette butts and used condoms
...more
Lyn
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Hard weather, says the old man. So let it be. Wrap me in the weathers of the earth, I will be hard and hard. My face will wash rain like the stones. ”

Cormac McCarthy’s unique and distinctive voice in American literature is in rare form in his 1979 Southern Gothic novel about a young man who steps away from a comfortable life with an affluent family to live on the Knoxville riverfront within a populace of drunks and ne’er do wells. Reminiscent of Steinbeck, Faulkner, James Joyce, and Robert Penn
...more
Lawyer
May 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer by: Goodreads Group "On the Southern Literary Trail"
Suttree: Cormac McCarthy's Conclusion to a Southern Quartet

Suttree by Cormac McCarthy was chosen as a group read by members of On the Southern Literary Trail in May, 2012 and August, 2019.

Suttree was published February 1, 1979.

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First Edition

On the dust jacket Cormac McCarthy appears a young man.

Photobucket

McCarthy's first novel, The Orchard Keeper was published in 1965. Sources clearly indicate that Suttree was already a work in progress. Jerome Charyn reviewed Suttree for the New York Times and said
...more
Katie
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: set-in-the-us
In this novel McCarthy abandons his usual formula. Instead of initially creating a close relationship of innocence and leading it into perils here he gives us a solitary itinerant character who, upon release from prison, sets up home in a shack by the Mississippi River. The novel follows the somewhat aimless trials and tribulations of Cornelius Suttree. Suttree is McCarthy's most self-indulgent novel. In all his novels he occasionally juxtaposes his minimalistic sentence writing with complex ...more
Perry
Mar 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Cormac McCarthy at his best--..writing with the throttle wide open--is still the closest thing to heroin you can buy in a bookstore. --Hal Crowther
A Smoky Mountain High: Trudging through Smokies with Loquacious, Abstruse McCarthy

Haled by cognoscenti, this early Cormac McCarthy tale follows the travails of Cornelius Suttree, a wayward, educated and privileged itinerant, as he wanders through the backwoods and over the rivers and streams of the Smoky Mountains, his acquaintances with the
...more
Darwin8u
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, aere-perennius
It is amazing how McCarthy can find the lyrical beauty in an absurd gout of hallelucinationatory crazy. Absolutely one of my favorite novels of all time (nearly stripped McCarthy's Blood Meridian of its bloody title). Reads like Steinbeck wrote a play based on a David Lynch film about a nightmare child of Fellini and Faulkner that is now worshiped as scripture by pimps, prostitutes, grifters, fishmongers and of course fishermen.

At times Suttree hits me like a complicated musical chorus, a
...more
Edward
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No one in the world can write like McCarthy. The power of his sentences comes not from ease and lightness and polish - they are hard and angular like a sculpted figure whittled laboriously from a gnarled hunk of wood, rendered the more striking for the humble matter from which it was hewn. The prose is wild and inscrutable, awash with metaphor and arcane vocabulary and curiouslyformed compoundwords to confound the reader - the purpose seems to be to locate the limit of language and extract from ...more
Jeremy
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is quite the slow burn. Most of Mccarthy's other works are very plot-driven, and you see that really reinforced in his western novels where you have this incredibly hypnotic language coalescing with (often horrific) events to create this sort of magisterial whirlwind of doom which just pulls you in with it's richness. That sort of building up takes a back burner here in favor of something which just sort of flows out in all directions, trying to encompass totally the world of the ...more
Lane Wilkinson
Jan 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Lane by: Andrew
'Suttree' goes directly into my own, personal daydream of the idealized 20th century canon. 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 of 20th century literature

'Suttree', at heart, is a sort of urban pastoral, replete with the myriad voices of a depressed, post-war Knoxville. Cornelius Suttree's wanderings echo precisely the
...more
Melki
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A man spends a few years of his life living on the river; years that are filled with catfish and carp, sex and death, vile bodies, and viler bodily fluids. Coffeecolored and seething, the river waits, always in the background, vying for billing as protagonist.

He could hear the river talking softly beneath him, heavy old river with wrinkled face.

The book is filled with adventures in drunken debauchery and foiled get-rich-quick schemes. And always, always, there is some heinous concoction to cloud
...more
Diane Barnes
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
To paraphrase Jerry Garcia: What a long strange trip this book has been. Most of it takes place on the waterfront of Knoxville, Tennessee, circa early 1950's. Suttree is a "river rat", living in a derelict houseboat and making his living as a fisherman, cavorting with down and out members of the Knoxville underworld. The difference between them and Suttree is that he was born into a privileged family and has chosen this life. We never find out why, and are only given a few hints of his previous ...more
Sara
Not since I first read Tom Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel have I encountered anyone who could write prose that rings so much like poetry or song lyric as Cormac McCarthy. If I were rating just the opening section of this book, it would get 5-stars, hands down. To say McCarthy conjures up other great writers is an understatement, for in addition to Wolfe, I immediately thought of Walt Whitman and the earthy descriptions in Song of Myself. Finally, as other readers have so often remarked, he channels ...more
Blair
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-gothic
'Suttree', Cormac McCarthy's 1979 Southern Gothic, semi-autobiographical novel was written over a twenty year span. Set in 1951 Knoxville, Cornelius Suttree, or 'Sut', has abandoned his wife and son and a life of privilege in favor of a life of squalor in a rundown houseboat on the Tennessee River.
Considered by many to be McCarthy's masterpiece, it is an extraordinary study of a fragmented man and the ragtag medley of drunkards, lowlifes, squatters, hookers, and ne'er-do-wells whose lives
...more
Edward  Goetz
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, literature
Loved it, but it is tough to get through. Very dense.

I really think this was the book where McCarthy transitioned from a very good writer to a great one. Not just because this was the last of his Appalachia books, you can also see where the writing changes to the signature style that sets him apart from other writers. The introduction is one example, as are the last 30 or so pages.

I finished this on my iPhone at my nephew's high school district finals wrestling tournament (in my defense, it was
...more
Anand
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This big novel is quite interesting. I'd started this very early in 2016 or so. I was enchanted by the baroque and luxurious prose describing that grotesque spirit of the old Knoxville. Then i got a little bored. And put it down. Then came back to it. And was moved again. And remembered why I love Cormac McCarthy so much. And ended up loving the book again.

[will make a better review than this, I promise]

10:11 PM, 2/12/2017

- in the middle of re-reading Blood Meridian. In that I almost forgot
...more
Cody
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a certain variety of the species H. sapiens—more often than not White, almost exclusively male—who vehemently contend that Blood Meridian is not only Cormac McCarthy’s greatest book, but the greatest novel of all time. Sorry to say, gentlemen, that I disagree with you on both counts (but we’re still on for lifting, bros). As great as Meridian is, it pales to this White Male by several hectares to McCarthy’s true masterpiece, Suttree. (I won’t even address the second contention.)

Don’t
...more
Bill
So, I read this book because my Goodreads friend Cody is always raving about what a great book this is. And, he is right, it's a masterpiece. Every sentence is a thing of beauty, a work of art. And Suttree and Harrogate are two of the most memorable characters in fiction.

The only quibble I have is that McCarthy likes to show off his extensive vocabulary. I had a pretty good education and have read thousands of books, so I think my vocabulary is better than average, but there were still quite a
...more
Steven Godin
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, america
I will never think of watermelons the same way again!, I mean "the moonlight melonmounter", come on!, by McCarthy's standards this was a laugh riot compared to his other works, but still retains the dark themes of misery, misfits and poverty. I didn't think anything would topple the awesome "Blood Meridian", well this most definitely did. An epic Tennessee masterpiece.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
GVS: Who are some of your favorite writers?

DFW: You’re really wielding the old baton on this aren’t you? To be honest… my faves?

GVS: Yeah.

DFW: Ones that people don’t know all that well? Oh, that’s right this is a British magazine so they won’t have heard of a lot of these. Cormac McCarthy, have you read “Blood Meridian”? It’s literally the western to end all westerns. Probably the most horrifying book of this century, at least fiction. But it is also, this guy, I can’t figure out he gets away
...more
Adam
Nov 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Suttree is an unusual book by McCarthy, for it lacks the genre conventions he sometimes employs and subverts. Here there is no plot, and it is focused on the picaresque adventures of the eponymous hero and his gang of misfits and compatriots. Comic misadventures and schemes a lá Twain occur, passages of beat gutter poetry, stark imagery and characters out of medieval allegory or the Old Testament (Witches, fools, and madmen); makes for a strange but beautifully written book. The prose creates ...more
Greg
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Things I learned from this book:
1)"But there are no absolutes in human misery and things can always get worse."
2)If you fuck every pumpkin in a pumpkin field you're liable to go to the county workhouse. I don't reckon there is one of them here, so I also reckon it's just about ok to fuck all them pumpkins.
Ade Bailey
Feb 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A goodreader's recommendation has come at the right moment.

Arrived a bit late from amazon, and I have only just finished James Kelman. But I have read the first sentence, and here goes....

It is marvellous. Somewhat as McCarthy, I'll refract and draw a few straight lines but first one way of seeing it whole. It's ethical, of course, and not moral, and the distinction between the two is immense in this book. An oddyssey of one man who is all souls in an underworld (literally most of the settings
...more
Brent
Dec 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It almost seems insulting to call this a work of art, because that is so cliche and nothing about this book is cliche. But it IS a work of art. McCarthy is a genius, and it's a shame that he is not more highly regarded than he is. Not an easy book to read. I am a fast reader, but this one took me almost a month. Very dense at times, but take your time and appreciate the pictures McCarthy paints with his words. Just incredible. Suttree is a unique character and extremely likeable, in my opinion. ...more
Jessaka
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Beautiful and haunting prose. Lyrical.

McCartney has been compared to Faulkner, BukowskI, and John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row.“ I have read Faulkner and Bukowski, and once was more than enough. But I can’t get enough of McCarthy at the moment. So, I can only understand a little of what they are saying in regards to the first two writers. Comparisons to John Steinbeck, yes. I see the resemblance, but I loved Steinbeck‘s characters. I don‘t always like McCarthy’s.

So why read McCarthy if his
...more
Tomas Ramanauskas
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: masterpiece
Cormac McCarthy is my favorite living author.
AND
I always struggle immensely whenever I’m about to read one of his books.

For I know that he’ll require me to work, to sweat my imagination and flex my attention, to open dictionary a few hundred times, to untagle freeform dream sequences, to sort out concealments, to wander in the mysterious.

Yet whenever I’m 30-40 pages into his world, I’m speechless, lost in his jungle, entangled in something overwhelmingly essential.

“Suttree” is a marvel. An
...more
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Around the Year i...: Suttree, by Cormac McCarthy 1 5 Aug 17, 2019 04:17PM  
Rule breakers unite! 1 8 Jun 06, 2018 09:36PM  
Did I miss something?? 22 447 Dec 20, 2016 10:55PM  
On the Southern L...: Cormac McCarthy's style - complaints, praise, etc. 25 158 Sep 23, 2012 09:37AM  
The Bookhouse Boys: Suttree 23 34 Aug 06, 2012 10:47AM  

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15,511 followers
Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist and playwright. He has written ten novels in the Southern Gothic, western, and post-apocalyptic genres and has also written plays and screenplays. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for The Road, and his 2005 novel No Country for Old Men was adapted as a 2007 film of the same name, which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

His earlier Blood
...more
“But there are no absolutes in human misery and things can always get worse” 109 likes
“What do you believe?
I believe that the last and the first suffer equally. Pari passu.
Equally?
It is not alone in the dark of death that all souls are one soul.
Of what would you repent?
Nothing.
Nothing?
One thing. I spoke with bitterness about my life and I said that I would take my own part against the slander of oblivion and against the monstrous facelessness of it and that I would stand a stone in the very void where all would read my name. Of that vanity I recant all.”
71 likes
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