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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 9 August 2011
Another amazing book, just as captivating and riveting as any other book by McCarthy. This is a lot longer that his other books, at 568 pages but somehow you will still finish it quicker than most other books. If you are a McCarthy virgin i would recommend starting elsewhere, as this is not the one to see if you like his style.
The synopsis tells you all you need to know, just buy it and read it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 September 2007
'Suttree' is the not the first book by Cormac McCarthy that I have read and it will not be the last.

As with his other earlier novels 'Suttree' is essentially a story about the hurdles that have to be negotiated by the portrayed characters as their lives progress; in this case the main character is Cornelius Suttree, a vagrant living alone in poverty on a houseboat on the Tennessee River who survives mainly on the income he derives from selling the fish he catches.

The writing of McCarthy rarely involves a complicated plot and 'Suttree' is no exception; we do nothing more (and that is not meant to be a criticism) than follow the struggles and situations that befall this character and meet people that he crosses paths with (which include long-term 'friends', the occasional relative, people he trades or works with and those he attempts to have a deeper relationship with....).

For me to reveal any more detail of the story would be unfair to a first-time reader. However, to help people decide on whether this story might be to their taste I would say the main themes are friendship, domestic survival and family relationships (in that order), with the odd dash of drunken violence thrown-in. There is occasionally some bad language but the violence is not extreme...

Whilst this overall premise may seem unattractive as the basis of a novel, it is the poetic and emotional nature of McCarthys writing which compels you to follow the journey. Quite how one can read, for example, page after page of apparently benign conversation between characters without getting bored or feeling uninterested I cannot easily explain, but McCarthy manages to achieve it. For my part, the attraction is more often than not because I grow to feel an affection for the characters and an interest in their lives and fate.

A significant additional attraction are the frequent exchanges, comments and discussions between the characters which, for the most part, are of a nature that the reader will not have been exposed to before with other authors. At first the language might seem bizarre or coarse, but it is (in my opinion) often unique, hilarious and fascinating. McCarthy makes no effort to simplify what characters say; you get the text as they would say it, truncated, slang, foreign language - warts and all !

Regarding the style of writing: His trait of describing an environment with what appear to be bizarre comparison techniques entices you to try and visualise the scene and makes reading the text even more addictive. It is surprising how brief his descriptions of people and surroundings can be, yet he has the ability to convince the reader that they have achieved an accurate 'vision', because he employs an extremely wide vocabulary and those blunt comparative phrases. The trademark absence of punctuation and speech marks, and regular use of extremely long sentences, may well deter some from committing themselves to reading the novel - but that is their loss.

A noteworthy feature of this novel is the 3-page introduction, which is a stunning compilation of descriptive paragraphs with no explanation as to their significance with what is to follow....

'Suttree' is a rich and vivid tale, which is regularly traumatic but just as often entertaining and wryly funny. Like his other novels, it has the ability to invoke deep emotions and long-lasting memories which will make your skin tingle.
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on 12 June 2015
McCarthy needs no praise from me... he is a real giant in the writing world. This type of book isn't for everybody but for me it sits up with Les Miserables and Tale of Two Cities.
It transports the reader to 1930's Tennesse.

Great read.
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on 22 November 2008
Cormac McCarthy has carved a solitary path on the literary map with Suttree, in my opinion he is one of the worlds best novelists, he is certainly inimitable. His prose bristles with poetry and his dialogue is often hilarious. It is the imagery from the gang raped whore in an abandoned car to the murky flow of the river through an at times woeful Knoxville that realy stays with you, the prose stings and sears and underlying it all is a great mind thinking and contemplating the barren and the beautiful, the meaning and the essence of life and death.
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on 1 January 2013
Make no mistake about it, this is a difficult novel - the language is convoluted and obscure, even by McCarthy's standards; and yet every word is exactly the right word. The plot doesn't particularly matter, although there are incidents galore - many of them hysterically funny. Who would have thought that the author of Blood Meridian could do a good fart gag? Beautiful, funny, tragic (of course, it's a McCarthy novel, after all), but no without some shreds of hope amid the despair, this is simply one of my favourite novels. I understand why you might hurl it aside after a few chapters, but please, please, persist until the end - you won't regret it..
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on 8 June 2014
The only downside to this fantastic novel is that once you have read it you will wonder if you will ever find another book that comes even close. Hats off to you Cormac McCarthy.
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on 30 July 2016
This is a truly great book, McCarthy's best in my view, surpassing his other masterpiece, "Blood Meridian". It is to Knoxville TN what Joyce's "Ulysses" is to Dublin. Like "Ulysses" it is populated with a fascinating cast of characters and events tragic and comic (it has several laugh-out-loud moments, something I did not expect from a McCarthy novel). The prose is wonderful and the book is suffused with a deep humanity (another thing in common with "Ulysses"). It is unforgettable. One of the best books I've ever read.
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on 28 September 2016
This book needs a thesaurus to be readily available on virtually every page! I've dipped into this over several years so not appreciated this as it should be read, but finally just finished. I didn't find it a page turner, but rather heavy and quite plotless (quite deliberate I'm sure). It's very different to the other couple of his books I've read, but despite the lack of plot line he amazes me with his knowledge and use of the English language. You can almost feel the heat of the Southern US state the story lolls about in.
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on 3 March 2014
What a craftsmen McCarthy is, a true master of descriptive writing . You can taste the dark and oppressive world in which Sutree exists. The only reason I haven't given it five stars is because at times as powerful as it is. I feel the that the use of language interrupted the flow of the story. Although maybe this is just me not being literate enough. Surely this will be used as something to aspire to?
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on 9 November 2015
A journey through the squalid Deep South USA in the depression. Told through the eyes and travails, the joys and redolent humour of Suttree. Hard to pin down his character sometimes but always sardonic and set head down against the grind of life lived on the edge of survival. A great read. I loved it, even the dictionary led battle through McCarthy's obscure vocabulary.
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