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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  13,908 Ratings  ·  1,077 Reviews
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 ...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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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, to ...more
Aug 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
like faulkner, except good...
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
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 was published February 1, 1979.


First Edition

On the dust jacket Cormac McCarthy appears a young man.


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 that McCarthy actually wrote Suttree over a thirty year span. I wouldn't argue. It's just that good. It's just that perfect.

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 hillbill
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 tourist-gu
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 downtrodde ...more
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
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2012
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 surre
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
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 f
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
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.
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dove i vivi e i morti sono una cosa sola

“In piedi tra le foglie urlanti Suttree invocava il fulmine. Che scoppiò e tuonò e lui indicò il proprio cuore ottenebrato e lo supplicò per un po' di luce. Sennò riduci queste ossa in cenere. Si sedette contro un albero e guardò il temporale spostarsi sopra la città. Sono forse un mostro, ci sono dei mostri dentro di me?”

Sul silenzioso fiume Tennessee, Suttree è un naufrago che diserta la vita, un profugo in fuga dalla quiete di una esistenza programmata,
Edward  Goetz
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature, 2017
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
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 it ...more
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 le
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 a
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, n-usa, e5
"Às vezes não percebo para que é que servem as vidas das pessoas."

Suttree não é um romance para quem gosta de "despachar" páginas. Exige entrega e leitura serena, para se poder apreciar a extraordinária beleza das descrições dos locais e das gentes.
Suttree não é um romance para quem gosta de personagens "bonitas". Aqui convivemos com vagabundos, velhos, criminosos, prostitutas, bêbedos,... Criaturas feias, fedorentas, que escarram, que falam mal, que dizem palavrões,...
Suttree não é um romance
Brent Godwin
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
Tomas Ramanauskas
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: masterpiece
Cormac McCarthy is my favorite living author.
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 inf
João Carlos
Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l2016

”Suttree”, originalmente editado em 1979, é o sétimo romance que li do norte-americano Cormac McCarthy (n. 1933), um dos meus escritores preferidos – que já não publica um livro desde 2006.
Estamos em Knoxville, Tennessee, no início dos anos 1950 - Cornelius Suttree – Sut - abandonou uma vida familiar estável para começar a viver sozinho numa casa flutuante na margem do rio Tennessee, nas “margens” da sociedade, sobrevivendo da venda dos peixes que apanha.
Em ”Suttree” não existe um enredo perfei
Jan 12, 2016 rated it did not like it
I am dumping this after having listened to one fourth of the audiobook. I thought I would avoid the author's annoying propensity of never using commas by listening to the audiobook. My mistake!

This isn't worth my time. The language is filthy. The book is boring, and it goes forward at the pace of a snail. I don't have trouble reading about the "down and out" if handled with finesse. Songdogs by the talented author Colum McCann is just one example. Cormac McCarthy seems to believe that I will be
Sentimental Surrealist
Now, don't get me wrong, sir or madam. I have nothing against McCarthy's more famous later novels. No Country for Old Men and the Road were both fine reads, stellar in places. But I'd have to place prime era Cormac back a few years. And while my favorite of his novels is still Blood Meridian, I'd put this at a close second.

In terms of structure, this is a unique novel. It doesn't so much have a conventional plot that follows a series of events and shows how the characters react to these events.
There is a line near the end of this book that will stick with me the rest of my life. It not only describes the entire journey of this masterpiece, but it's a bit a sound bit of advice on how to get through life.

"He had divested himself of the little cloaked godlet and his other amulets in a place where they would not be found in his lifetime and he'd taken for talisman the simple human heart within him."

Such is the story of Cornelius "Buddy" Suttree, a man who cuts himself off from his family
Leo Robertson
Dnf @160.
Not really in the mood for this one this... lifetime.

I started skipping because I wanted story, but the parts I was skipping- the lengthy descriptions and apparently poetic prose were clearly what I was supposed to be reading this for- that is, no story, just sprawling, rambling description that hits on those same tired "revelations" of so many "wise" authors. All that stuff about, oh no, I am no longer in my mother, oh no, one day I will die, oh no, life is so tragic because of these t
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 characte
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is absolutely beautiful. It holds it's place right behind Gaiman's American Gods as my second favorite novel ever written.

Let me explain: When I first read The Road, I immediately fell in love with Cormac McCarthy’s writing style. The absence of quotation marks, the SAT vocabulary, the full-page long comma-less sentences, and vivid imagery, while off-putting to many, for me was the literary equivalent of an orgasm. The story was not what I expected or wanted it to be, but the writing h
James Ferrett
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“But there are no absolutes in human misery and things can always get worse.”

Imagine William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury crossed with It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia and you have something close to Suttree. One main character is a brooding rebel who has rejected his family’s wealth and lives on a river catching fish, spending his time drinking heavily and living painfully. Another fucks watermelons.

This is an outrageous and astounding novel. It starts off feeling aimless, but if you stic
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On the Southern L...: * Suttree, Initial impressions, May, 2017 70 48 Jun 13, 2017 11:53AM  
Did I miss something?? 22 330 Dec 20, 2016 10:55PM  
On the Southern L...: Cormac McCarthy's style - complaints, praise, etc. 27 126 Sep 23, 2012 09:37AM  
The Bookhouse Boys: Suttree 23 29 Aug 06, 2012 10:47AM  
On the Southern L...: Suttree - First Impressions, May 2012 15 60 Jun 09, 2012 07:48AM  
On the Southern L...: the Suttree "Dear friend" prologue, May 2012 11 82 May 22, 2012 09:40AM  
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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 M
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“But there are no absolutes in human misery and things can always get worse” 86 likes
“What do you believe?
I believe that the last and the first suffer equally. Pari passu.
It is not alone in the dark of death that all souls are one soul.
Of what would you repent?
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.”
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