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To: ALL Date: 07/31 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 2:08 AM Re: SUTTREE All, Let's get rolling on this book. I want to know what you thik of it. I don't have much to add to my post of several weeks ago, but I promise to repost it as soon as my computer returns from the shop, where its horrendous squealing noise is being eliminated. One thing: Agee's A DEATH IN THE FAMILY is considered by most to be THE Knoxville book, at least pre-SUTTREE. Some of you may want to compare the prologues of the two books. Seems as though McCarthy's playing on what Agee does in the beginning of his novel. Bill Spencer wrote a rather fascinating piece on SUTTREE that he presented at the Conference; called "The Excremental Vision of Cormac McCarthy," (precis on website) it illustrates some of the fecal imagery in the book and makes a fairly good argument that this persistent imagery MEANS something. What do you guys think? I'll be reading along...and look for real people; evidently there are quite a few of them. You might even point them out.--IDJP =============== Reply 1 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/02 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 1:09 AM SUTTREE: The first post redux All, I don't think it's quite time for this post yet, but I'm feeling particularly irrepressible this evening, so here goes. (Actually, I think it'll be good to have this post out there for a few days (at least) before anyone tackles this book.) Were I teaching a class in Southern literature, I would most probably assign McCarthy's SUTTREE in close proximity to Faulkner's THE SOUND AND THE FURY, which really breaks the chronology of my hypothetical course. But the two writers are worth comparison, so I suspect that it's quite good that we're reading SUTTREE immediately after we've finished the Faulkner. Now, there are several things that need to be said about SUTTREE. One is that it taps into the great tradition of American sea novels--if you stretch the convention enough to include Twain's HUCKLEBERRY FINN, then SUTTREE goes right along. Another is that this is unquestionably McCarthy's funniest book. Yet another is that SUTTREE is an example of what McCarthy is capable of doing with a literate protagonist. Cornelius Suttree appears to be college-educated, unlike any of McCarthy's other main characters. Some have said that Suttree is McCarthy, and some others have disagreed, but it's taken as fact that McCarthy lived the sort of life Suttree does for years before he quit drinking. When asked why he quit drinking, McCarthy replied that all the people he wrote about in that book were dead. Now, as always, the big question comes up. On the vanguard of the deconstructionists is Vereen Bell, who began by arguing that SUTTREE is (like BLOOD MERIDIAN) in some sense nihilistic, that the book is essentially an exercise in some sort of anti-symbolism. The symbols and references are in the book, they simply don't have any coherent meaning and were in fact put there to mislead the reader. Or at least, that's how I read Bell's thesis. Bell et. al. are opposed by Edwin T. Arnold & Co., who argue that SUTTREE is McCarthy's most religious book, a work deeply concerned with theology and etc. I lean toward Arnold's view, but that may be because I am inherently opposed to the concept of a writer who writes with a callow disregard for meaning in his words. In my opinion, words are the coin of the realm for any writer, and writing to confuse seems to me to be counter-productive, and it devalues the writer's tools. Kind of like saying that you've got to go beat the axe against a rock somewhere and dull the blade before you chop the wood. One more thing to be careful of...the book is long and contains many characters (by one count over one hundred named). and many of those have multiple nicknames. So keeping folks straight is difficult sometimes. I'll do what I can in this regard, but I'm making no promises. Still, the bountiful resources of the Cormac McCarthy Society are at my beck and call. If we can't figure it out, I can find someone--quickly--who can. I don't know if this note is the commencement of the discussion or not; the conference for Southern Writers and Southern Writing is the last week of this month, and I should come back from there with many new thoughts about SUTTREE and McCarthy's Southern books in general. And I'll also come back having presented a paper there myself on McCarthy's OUTER DARK. --The Irrepressible DJP 7/15/96 4:33AM CT =============== Reply 2 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/02 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:48 PM Marty, Since I am the one who asked you to hold off on this note, I want to tell you that I am very glad that you repeated it for us now. I am on page 90 and am enjoying this book. Oftentimes, I read when I am having a meal, so I was "oh-so-happy" that I read about Suttree's drunkenness, where he throws up on himself and the vomit dries on his clothes, in the middle of the afternoon. It was interesting but not very appetizing. I found the episode about Harrogate and the watermelons to be hysterical. It makes me want to give up eating watermelons! Also, thank you for mentioning that the great number of characters is confusing. I can't keep Suttree's drinking buddies straight yet. J-bone is Jimmy, I think. Another great recommendation! Jane in toasty Colorado. =============== Reply 3 of Note 7 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 08/02 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 11:10 PM I'll be there soon, folks. Puff, puff. Marty, you'll be horrified to know that the Public Library of the City of Redlands (population pushing 60,000) only has 2 McCarthy books. And neither of them are SUTTREE. I've ordered it from my friend-with-a-bookstore and should have it by Tuesday. Then I'll play catchup. Puff, puff. Ruth =============== Reply 4 of Note 7 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 08/04 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 6:58 PM Ruth, It is well worth the read. What writing! Jane =============== Reply 5 of Note 7 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 08/04 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 7:09 PM Just wanted to share with you my most recent, favorite quote from 'Suttree', in which Hazlewood, aka 'Worm', describes a most memorable hang-over: "The last time I drank some of that shit I like to died. I stunk from the inside out. I laid in a tub of hot water all day and climbed out and dried and you could still smell it. I had to burn my clothes. I had the dry heaves, the drizzlin shits, the cold shakes and the jakeleg. I can think about it now and feel bad." Dick in Alaska, where his hands are shaking from the other guy's experience P.S. Anybody got a good explanation for 'tush hogs'? My Dict. of Amer. Slang says 'tush' was black slang for a light-skinned black or mulatto; also for highbrow and ritzy. Nothing on the useage 'tush hog' however. Could be like 'sweat hogs' from the famous TV show. =============== Reply 6 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/04 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 9:41 PM Dick in Alaska: Bless your heart, as we say hereabouts, for fixing on one of my favorite passages from SUTTREE. No failure to communicate, here. This level of descriptive language is matched, yea exceeded, by the Ultimate Bar Fight in Part II of SUTTREE, if I may say. (Watch for the "carpet sweeper" exchange, redux, i.e. at the hospital.) Who but Cormac, I ask, could pull off such a seamless paean to the sacred and profane in a single volume? BTW, your horrible experience with out-of-hand Southern wedding parties made my ears especially perk up to an Associated Press item in our local paper this week: a new bride goes to jail, charged with assaulting a police officer after her post-wedding dance got out-of-hand. The location? A suburb in MASSACHUSETTS. Alas, it appears that both eloquence of language and tackiness of behavior know no bounds, if they ever did. >>Dale in Ala., trying to export one but not the other =============== Reply 7 of Note 7 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 08/05 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:48 PM Hi fellow readers, After just having finished the first 200 pages of SUTTREE, I have been pondering the main character. Here is a man who goes out in frigid weather to check on his indigent friends but who has abandonned his wife and child. This is a man who is kind to small children he meets along the river, and the same man kicks his mother-in-law in the head when she attacks him after the death of his child. I feel that McCarthy is slowly unwinding this character and that I don't really know him yet. As Sir Richard says, the drinking scenes are so vivid that you feel like you were right there with them. I also loved this description of the frigid day - p. 168 "This winter come, gray season here in the welter of sootstained fog hanging over the city like a biblical curse, cheerless medium in which the landscape blears like Atlantis on her lightless seafloor dimly through eel's eyes." This is a perfect description of Denver on a day when it is ten degrees below zero and when the pollution is hanging heavy over the city. Jane who has thankfully never been hit with a floor buffer. =============== Reply 8 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/05 From: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Time: 11:01 PM Dick, Re "tush hogs," I believe "tush" refers to the elongated canines on feral hogs, who had been undomesticated long enough for the teeth to grow into formidable weapons. Br'er Short may be able to correct or amend my defintion. Felix Miller pass the tequila, mother, the apaches are re-grouping. 8/5/96 10:51PM ET =============== Reply 9 of Note 7 =================  
To: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Date: 08/06 From: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Time: 1:41 AM I always thought tush was a Yiddish euphemism for what we all sit on (I dare not say the word....) Theresa P.S. to Felix - I think you've had enough of that tequila, pal. Watch out you don't get 86'd before the Apaches even arrive. =============== Reply 10 of Note 7 =================  
To: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Date: 08/06 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 9:36 AM Lol, Theresa...I was getting ready to make a comment to Felix about that tequila as well, but your's was much better. It always makes me smile at the end of Felix's notes though. Well, folks, I have finally (drum roll...) finished WAR AND PEACE (trumpets blarring, flags waving.) Wouldn't have missed it for the world and am reading bits of the bio of Tolstoy that I have because I still haven't lost my fascination for that man. However...the one drawback this book has is that it took a lot of time away from all the other books I wanted to read. Will now be starting SUTTREE in between bites of the Tolstoy bio while I go through withdrawal from the man. Hope to be posting soon. Barb =============== Reply 11 of Note 7 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 08/06 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 12:01 PM Barb: You're going to like 'Suttree' I think, but fair warning: because of this book, you may never again be able to say the phrase "melon ball" without giggling. Dick in Alaska, where puberty is bereft of melon patches =============== Reply 12 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/06 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 3:02 PM what do you all think of Harrogate, other than that his character is sort of, well...fruity . He seems always to be getting in trouble. Suttree keeps having to rescue him. and...what of the language in this book? It's obviously a presence, but is it a "theme" or even a "character"? Or does that designation go to the city itself? And what about Faulkner's influence here? --IDJP =============== Reply 13 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/06 From: FNMN56E LYNN EVANS Time: 3:51 PM Although I haven't read Suttree (oh, a few opening pages perhaps), I've certainly heard about the watermelon scene. I gotta say, though, for this scene to be as outrageous as it's been made out to be, I think Suttree should put a bonnet on the melon and take it home to meet mother. Just an opinion, of course. Lynn =============== Reply 14 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/06 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 10:15 PM Marty: I'm not far enough in to really make much young Master Harrowgate -- so far he just seems like an awkward oaf with a passion for fresh fruit. His experience in the work camp seems very reminiscent of any other young man's first experience in 'the real world', be it the military, the forecastle of a ship, or a logging camp. Guy stuff. Lot's of cussin' and scratchin'. Get drunk. Knock each other down. Like that. The language is very rich -- I do think McCarthy comes close to overdoing his Faulknerian darkness, with all the six-bit words, when that is put right up alongside the most delightful, countrified redneck, downhome, bullshit dialect I've read in a long time. Reminds me of a good many relatives, actually. I'm still not sure I'm in focus here as to what's going on novelwise: the arcane, obscure narrator, floating like a dark camera over everything; the educated, but by-god-simple-and-unprentious Suttree; the city (good point you raise -- it does seem to be a separate character) which looks like it was taken out of a Soviet propaganda film circa 1950. But it's funny and it's fun -- good pick. So far the main thing that reminds me of Faulkner is the sheer richness of the language. McCarthy is more cinematic to me; Faulkner more self-consciously 'literary' with the shifts in point of view, obscure changes in narrator, etc. But what the heck -- I've got several hundred pages to go, so I could change my mind several times here. Dick in Alaska, with NOT enough time to read recently =============== Reply 15 of Note 7 =================  
To: FNMN56E LYNN EVANS Date: 08/06 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 10:16 PM Lynn: I don't know about outrageous, exactly, but the dialogue between the two good ol' boys about what they seen in that melon patch is as funny as anything I've read in recent memory. Laughed till my belly hurt. Dick, boiling his melons =============== Reply 16 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/06 From: FFFC21B TOM OREM Time: 10:40 PM Marty: I'm coming on late, via Peggy's recommendation, but SUTTREE is like #10 on my list of all-time favorites. It's been awhile but I especially love the watermelon scene, the scene where Harrogate tried collecting like $40 for killing bats, and the scene where he uses gum to steal dimes from a blind beggar. The beggar's comment upon realizing he's being robbed is timeless. The Faulkner influence IMHO is in the stark description and the use of POV. As a writer I have learned far more from Faulkner than anyone, McCarthy (have read all his books) in the second tier with Papa and F. Scott. Tom =============== Reply 17 of Note 7 =================  
To: FFFC21B TOM OREM Date: 08/07 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 0:41 AM All, I just picked up Suttree from the bookstore this afternoon. So far I've only read the first page of the introduction. It is pure poetry. Take that first paragraph, put in a few line breaks, and you've got a poem as good as any I've read lately. Dear friend, now in the dusty clockless hours of the town when the streets lie black and steaming in the wake of the watertrucks and now when the drunk and the homeless have washed up in the lee of walls in alleys or abandoned lots and cats go forth highshouldered and lean in the grim perimeters about, now in these sootblacked brick or cobbled corridors where lightwire shadows make a gothic harp of cellar doors no soul shall walk but you. All I can say is, Wow! Ruth, heading back to her reading =============== Reply 18 of Note 7 =================  
To: FNMN56E LYNN EVANS Date: 08/07 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 2:49 AM Lynn, You really need to READ the watermelon scene, and a few pages after. Harrogate winds up in prison, and there's some talk of what might one day happen to the melons; I cannot post the excerpt here. --IDJP =============== Reply 19 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/07 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 2:53 AM Dick, If you're not too far into the novel, you'll probably change your mind...somewhat...about the Faulkner influence. also, watch for McCarthy's ever-pervasive doubling of his main character. And since you've read BLOOD MERIDIAN, how do you think this one compares? There's some discussion as to which of those books (BLOOD MERIDIAN or SUTTREE) is his best. I change my mind daily. --IDJP =============== Reply 20 of Note 7 =================  
To: FFFC21B TOM OREM Date: 08/07 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 2:56 AM Well, Tom, welcome to the party. Hopefully this will be going on for a while. And...just because I feel like asking everyone, what's the purpose of all this laughter in this book? The book's dark tone is not lost because of the humor, but everyone knows why we have tragedy--to uplift the soul and all that. What's the POINT of comedy writing like this? --IDJP =============== Reply 21 of Note 7 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 08/07 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 3:00 AM Ruth, How right you are. I think it's possible, and we discussed last weekend in Oxford, that McCarthy OUGHT to be regarded as one of the great poets of the last half century even though he's writing prose. One critic said of BLOOD MERIDIAN, for example, that it was the "achievement of epic poetry in prose." Right he is, too. But SUTTREE belongs in a different group. It's no epic poem. Something else. Something poetic. And something funny. Very funny indeed. --IDJP =============== Reply 22 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/07 From: FNMN56E LYNN EVANS Time: 9:01 AM Sorry, Marty, I was really just teasing a little. But I shouldn't do that with Cormac, huh? (One day I will read the book. Promise.) Lynn =============== Reply 23 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/07 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 11:43 AM Well, I've finally read the famous watermelon scene and I can certainly see now what the talk has all been about. Has McCarthy ever given a clue about the genesis of his idea for this scene? I was sitting in the parking lot outside my son's swimming practice pool helplessly laughing this morning. I'm waiting to read this one to my husband when he gets home from work tonight. Ruth, I had the same feeling concerning that opening part. My brother (the first person to tell me about McCarthy and a continuing admirer) has always recommended that McCarthy be read aloud and I understand why now. Marty, I need to write to him to make sure, but I think Bruce always thought that SUTTREE was the best book. I know that when you all were reading BLOOD MERIDIAN, he recommended that I start with SUTTREE instead. Barb =============== Reply 24 of Note 7 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 08/08 From: FFFC21B TOM OREM Time: 0:03 AM Ruth: It's hard to tell who will and who won't appreciate McCarthy: me, I write SF and drink beer while I do and listen to Megadeth over it all and read McCarthy and Faulkner and Papa and Fitzgerald when I take pause in my writing. I've read all McCarthy's books and I think of anyone with at least seven he ranks highest among those with the lowest highest score: I mean, Papa had a few bombs and Faulkner had some you can't understand unless some divine force has overtaken your mind and Fitzgerald didn't even write that many. The only time I was ever disappointed with McCarthy was with THE CROSSING and then only because it wasn't as good as HORSES. But then, for my money, the only book I've ever read as good as HORSES is TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Fitzgerald romantices the upper stratum and Papa the average Joe and Faulkner shows the Southern, lower class in everyday life but McCarthy provides a unique perspective on the overlooked and ignored segment of American society that lives on the fringe and oft-times outside what the middle class observes and acknowledges. I sometimes think he compares more to James Joyce than Faulkner. Tom =============== Reply 25 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/08 From: FFFC21B TOM OREM Time: 0:10 AM Marty: The purpose of humor? Harrogate is a comical person. If I were to meet McCarthy in person I'd suspect he'd have quite a dry sense of humor, from his writings. Favorites: HORSES SUTTREE BLOOD MERIDIAN THE CROSSING OUTER DARK CHILD OF GOD THE ORCHARD KEEPER. Tom =============== Reply 26 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/08 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 1:43 AM Marty: I'm awfully impressed at what good questions you have about some of this stuff. For example, on the humor issue. You suggested earlier I'd see more resemblence to Faulkner as the book progresses; so far (at page 125 or so) I'm still not all that convinced, but proceeding with an open mind. But, while I watch for Faulkner I'm MORE struck by how fundamentally different McCarthy is -- and the humor is the key element of difference. Now you all know that if a little knowledge about Faulkner is a dangerous thing, then the entire world is in danger from me. However, based on my limited exposures, there is absolutely nothing in Faulkner that compares to McCarthy's use of humor -- down home, good old boy, dirtball humor of the very sort I learned at my father's and grandfather's knees. And, the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that was one factor that put me off 'The Sound and the Fury' and 'Sanctuary' -- the totally humorless quality of the characters. I understand that in comparison, 'As I Lay Dying' is a real knee-slapper, but I had to put a hold on that one (a) to read Suttree before Marty went back to school and (b) because that art book Ruth subliminally forced me to buy is soaking up LOADS of reading time (Honestly, folks, go to the library and check out Skostad's 'Art History'; what a great volume; I spent lunch hour learning that French cathedrals have groins too. I'm dying to get to the next chapter and find out if, for example, Notre Dame could suffer a groin poule....) Anyway, did McCarthy set out to demonstrate you could write like WMF AND get the laughs? Whatever his reasons, I can sure relate better to this dialogue and these characters than I could with old Billy. 'Course, I'm a Yankee, and Tennessee IS a border state. Maybe it's some kind of cultural deal. Miscellaneous points: Interesting how McCarthy draws out the tension of the fishing stories -- he pulls his trot-lines at the very beginning of the story, but doesn't gut or clean his fish for sixty pages or so. I don't know about the rest of you but I was in a literarily-induced salomonellic seizure by the time he got 'em headed, gutted and sold. I couldn't let it go -- "What happened to the fish?" Anybody else feel that, or have I just lived near salt water for too long? Also, the second time he pulled his lines (after the unforgettable Cafe Odeur scene, after the screaming drunk in the black whore-house scene, and after the drizzling shits, cold shakes and jake-leg in the jailhouse scene, to name just a few) he THROWS AWAY DEAD FISH. Now, the last time I fished for cats down in that neck of the woods, dead fish had a name: BAIT. The deader and smellier the better. Question: Did Cormac finally make a tiny little mistake here, or, is it going to be accounted for in his typically meticulous, anal retentive fashion? Other miscellany: Boy, this guy can really write. I like 'Suttree' better than 'Blood Meridian' simply because it's more fun; whether that makes it a better book, I dunno -- clearly of the two, BM is the three and a half double reverse gainer into the Piranha pool, from some sort of technical literary viewpoint -- a book worth 9.9, even on the scorecard of an unrepenetant Cuban communist. But doesn't being fun to read count for a lot as well? Finally, Harrowgate -- what a doof. Clearly I overrated him in the early going. But he is a wonderful character, provided you don't have to be around him in person. His sojourn through the back alleys of Knoxville, in search of Suttree, is a classic Odessey. So many wonderful, unforgettable bits of detail and observation as he makes his comic way through the flotsam and jetsam of effluvial Knoxville. In sum: Thanks for a great recommendation, Marty -- looking foward to the New Year's Eve, "CR Year in Review" post, where I can salute all these great books. Dick in Ak =============== Reply 27 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/08 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 12:53 PM Marty: I was thinking this morning: if Forrest Gump had been just a little dumber, he'd be the spit of old Harrowgate. 'Course Forrest had better quality folks than Gene did, so I guess environment counts for a lot. Dick in Alaska, trying to imagine how and why a name like 'Oceanfrog' would come about =============== Reply 28 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/08 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 1:53 PM Okay, folks, you're not going to believe this, but when I got to the famous watermelon scene I was seated in the kitchen, eating lunch, which was, you guessed it! But speaking of that scene, don't any of you remember the famous liver scene in Portnoy's Complaint? Anyhoo, I'm plowing ahead with Suttree, but geepers, this book just don't read fast. Ruth =============== Reply 29 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/08 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 3:33 PM Dick, I'm still in prison with Harrowgate and Suttree. However, I am so glad to hear that (at least as far as you are), McCarthy doesn't give him a hero's slant. Don't you know this guy? I knew a number of Harrowgates in Indiana. He's just a small adolescent guy, without a lot of brains, who is looking out for himself. That scene in prison where Slusser gets mad at him because he wouldn't stop working on the ring, which involves Suttree, then Callahan and eventually gets the hole for Callahan and god knows what for Slusser was a classic. When Suttree warns him about what is going to happen when Slusser gets out, he just says he'll be okay if Callahan gets out first...I mean, who cares if Callahan ended up in the hold because of him? And, I love Suttree's assessment of him at that point: *** Suttree looked at him. He was not lovable. This adenoidal leptosome that crouched above his bed like a wizened bird, his razorous shoulderblades jutting in the thin cloth of his striped shirt. Sly, rat-faced, a convicted pervert of botanical bent. Who would do worse when in the world again. Bet on it. But something in him so transparent, so vulnerable. *** I can absolutely see him. Lynn, you need to read this book...I have a feeling that you would like it. Barb =============== Reply 30 of Note 7 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 08/08 From: FNMN56E LYNN EVANS Time: 8:50 PM I liked the My Sin scene in Portnoy's Complaint. =============== Reply 31 of Note 7 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 08/08 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 11:07 PM HARROGATE I am interested in the fact that everyone calls Harrogate "the city mouse", and then along about p. 270, Suttree calls him "the city rat". I may be wrong, but I think that a city mouse seems much nicer than a city rat, so has H. sunk in S.'s estimation? If H. spent the time that he uses to cook up his preposterous plans in working, he would have a steady income. When you get to the part about the tunnels under Knoxville, you will see what I mean. >>>>>> When you get to Suttree's trek through North Carolina,tell me if it reminds you of the characters in BLOOD M., THE CROSSING, and ALL THE PRETTY HORSES. There are similar scenes where the characters are wandering around the hills of Mexico with no money and no food. I am also wondering about Suttree's visits to his boyhood home and to his school. Both buildings are in ruins, and I am wondering why. Maybe McCarthy will tell us why later. On p. 321, we finally find out why Suttree was in prison. Great choice DJP. Jane who is on p.332 where the pages fly by. There is little heavy language in this episode of S.'s life. =============== Reply 32 of Note 7 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 08/08 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 11:13 PM Jane, I'm slogging along, but I'm not caught up in things yet. I think I'm a little good-ol-boy humor deficient. Ruth =============== Reply 33 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/08 From: FFFC21B TOM OREM Time: 11:23 PM Dick: For Faulkner and humor, try THE REIVERS. Tom =============== Reply 34 of Note 7 =================  
To: FFFC21B TOM OREM Date: 08/08 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 11:47 PM Tom: Thanks for the tip and welcome. I'm kind of getting into this Faulkner thing in sequence, more or less as his literary career developed. The 'Reivers' is at the end, right? And miles to go before I chuckle? Maybe I should skip ahead and sample the fullness of the bottle, and not just go with the young vintages. Also, perhaps, I should stop fumbling with all these farfetched metaphors and analogies, and go back to reading. Even, better, I should stop talking to myself on line. So many choices, so little conviction.... Dick in Alaska, preparing for a fishing trip =============== Reply 35 of Note 7 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 08/09 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 2:27 AM Jane, Putting the boyhood home in ruins scene in the book seems to me quite audacious a step on the part of McCarthy. I mean, that was Faulkner's THING. And to even attempt it takes a lot of gall post-Faulkner. The fact that it succeeds is even more amazing. --IDJP =============== Reply 36 of Note 7 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 08/09 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 9:23 AM Ruth, my one resolution about this book is that I will NOT read it while I am eating! That drunk scene in which he describes in detail the inside of the toilet, Harrogate finding the human eye under the seat of the old car, etc., fact, I could use this book to cut my calorie intake. The scene at Howard Clevenger's store is one of my favorites so far...the language was perfect. And, I liked a lot of the interplay among the prisoners early on. McCarthy's ear for dialogue is pretty outstanding and I didn't expect that. BTW, did anyone else have a reaction to that part where Suttree's mother came to see him in prison and the paragraph giving his reaction to sitting there looking at her? It's the paragraph that begins with "See the hand that nursed the serpeant." That little bit of softness in contrast to the brittleness of the rest of that environment was very striking. Dick, your point that this is Tenn. was a good one for me. I used to think that half of Muncie, Indiana, where I grew up, was populated with residents of Tennessee who came up to work in the factories. I do recognize these guys...just didn't have McCarthy's lens to see them. And, Ruth, hope you stick it out. I think you'll be glad you did, in the end...if only for the language. I can't find any examples this second, but think I'm going to start underlining them (yes, I'm one of those folks). He so frequently uses a single word that doesn't fit grammatically, etc. but is so perfect to sum up exactly what he wanted to say at that point. Barb...who finally realized that she was misspelling Harrogate =============== Reply 37 of Note 7 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 08/09 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 10:48 AM Barb: I'm interested at how familiar all the colloquialisms, neologisms, syllogisms and/or euphemisms McCarthy uses are to me, given the apparent distance been Knoxville and Anchorage. Most of my immediate family is from Oklahoma which is still quite a ways from Knoxville, but apparently pretty close culturally and linguistically. Perhaps it's all due to the intermediating effect of Arkansas, lying square between the two states. A friend of mine from Little Rock once described the difference between Oklahoma and Arkansas as, "Y'all are just as mean and stupid as we'uns, 'cept you're so damned PROUD of it." Who knows what evil could have been loosed on the earth, if fate had made Oklahoma a next door neighbor with Tennessee -- without the soft, civilizing effect of the modest and humble people of Arkansas, I shudder to think. Anyway, it's a great read -- "Beavis & Butthead Get Literary". In the meantime I'm off for a few days here, taking the family into the wilderness to slaughter things. I'll expect a full scale analysis of gastrointestinal humor and the male mindset when I get back. Dick marooned in Alaska =============== Reply 38 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/09 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 3:54 PM Barb and Dick, I recognize some of the expressions in this book, because my father's family is from rural Indiana. They say things like "you'uns, we'uns, and us'uns" and "Looky here!" Today I was brave and read this book during lunch as I was munching my salmon patties and green salad at a neat little place called THE HOUSE OF WINDSOR. On p. 359, we meet Fernon and Vernon who kind of ressemble Larry, Darrel, and Darrel of TV fame. I got a good chuckle out of these twins, so Ruth, hang in there. Jane who returns to work on Aug. 19. =============== Reply 39 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/09 From: FFFC21B TOM OREM Time: 11:01 PM Dick: Faulkner favorites: THE REIVERS (funny) THE LIGHT IN AUGUST AS I LAY DYING The Snopes Trilogy: THE HAMLET THE TOWN THE MANSION and, THE UNVANQUISHED. Others are really dense. Tom =============== Reply 40 of Note 7 =================  
To: FFFC21B TOM OREM Date: 08/10 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 1:07 AM Marty, It's driving me nuts! I can't stand it when I don't know how to pronounce names. Is it SUT-tree or Sut-TREE? Ruth, into the final stretch =============== Reply 41 of Note 7 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 08/10 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 3:33 AM You know, I wonder if McCarthy's use of the word "serpent"--I assume that was the word there, because I don't know "serpeant" (but asuming a word in McCarthy doesn't exist because I don't know it is a foolhardy thing)--could possibly be a play on Lear's "How sharper than a serpent's tooth to have a thankles child," or whatever that line is exactly. just a thought. --IDJP =============== Reply 42 of Note 7 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 08/10 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 3:44 AM Ruth, Being from Tennessee, albeit the southwest corner instead of the northeast corner, I'd venture to say that it's SUT-tree. and that was the consensus of most of the McCarthy folks at the Oxford thing. Still, Tennessee is a long and skinny state, so it could be either way. I mean, it's not like anyone's heard McCarthy read from the book or anything , so nobody really knows. Still, my vote is for SUT-tree, especially since folks kep calling him "Sut." a couple of comments: do any of you know of any...meaning that could be gotten from that name? I mean, it seems like an odd name. Is their any sort of etymological sense to it? there any passsage you've read anyplace similar to "Are there dragons waiting in the wings of the world?" I keep thinking about that sentence like it ought to tell me something beyond its admittedly powerful poetic implications. But a close reading of McCarthy is, I guess, apt to drive a body plumb crazy. The more I read him, the more convinced I am that he's read practically EVERYTHING there is to read. The allusiveness of his work is just amazing to me. --IDJP =============== Reply 43 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/10 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 10:53 AM Wow, Marty, SUTTREE seems to be playing havoc with my spelling abilities...I almost spelled the title with one t and two r's today too! It is definitely serpent. King Lear is one of the few Shakespearean plays with which I'm familiar because I had a wonderful teacher in college who immersed us in it in the second semester of English Comp. Interesting place to study King Lear, don't you think? I never understood quite how he got that plan by the curriculum folks, but it sure worked for me. In any case, I'm certain you're right about McCarthy's source for that line. And, as you point these things out, I am starting to understand how the study of his books could extend into time ad infinitum. Please continue to point them out to us as you know or learn them. That part is fascinating and I rarely take the time to discover them for myself. Hope you don't mind spoonfeeding us lazy folk! Somewhat along the same line, I am finding that this is not a book I read well in the waiting room of the pediatrician, etc. I do need a quiet span of time to immerse myself without the distraction of outside conversations. Have been reading bits of a Tolstoy bio in the other situations...this I can digest with other sounds around me. Barb =============== Reply 44 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/10 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 1:12 PM Marty, Okay, SUT-tree it is. And I can't make *anything* out of it. But the "dragons" line I can say something about. I wrote a poem a few years ago entitled Beyond Here There be Dragons, which contained the line "I watched, and my heart twisted as you stepped off the edge of the world." That poem is unpublished so we can be fairly certain that although McCarthy may have read practically everything there is to read, he hasn't been reading me. He may, however, have gotten that line from the same place I got my allusion. On old, old maps of the world, when the mapmaker got to the "edge" of the known world he would often give the warning "Beyond here there be dragons." Ruth, in California, another long state, although on a slightly different scale and orientation =============== Reply 45 of Note 7 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 08/10 From: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Time: 8:28 PM Ruth That "beyond here there be dragons" line always gives me shivers! Marty (and all): I can't remember if we discussed this during the read of BLOOD MERIDIAN, but what is the motive behind McCarthy's use of obscure words? I'm not complaining (I LOVE my dictionary), but everything I've learned as a proto-writer tells me it's wrong -- that it breaks the "suspension of disbelief" and makes the reader aware that he or she is reading. At one point I had to look up three words in a single sentence (cupreous, dacebright, and sprueless). And why "instanter" instead of "instantly," when they mean exactly the same thing? On the other hand, I am truly in awe of McCarthy's descriptive prose. It would be very easy to get lost in his world -- if I didn't have to stop and look up "littoral." Peggy PS -- Marty, if it was you who recommended Paul Simon's "Rhythm of the Saints" -- thank you! It's my new favorite CD. =============== Reply 46 of Note 7 =================  
To: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Date: 08/10 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 11:42 PM Ruth, Thanks for asking the pronunciation question, because I was wondering the same thing. Peggy, I find that certain passages of this book flow like the river that Suttree lives on. One example is the section where S. goes up the river to help Reeves and his family drag in mussels. Other passages, I have to read two or three times to understand, and I also have to scurry for the dictionary. And sometimes the word isn't there, much to my frustration. It is a learning experience. Marty, I am fascinated by the various ways that McCarthy describes Blind Richard's eyes. Each one of them makes me cringe, but the words are so vivid. As CR's, our eyes are so important to us that it makes us especially uncomfortable to read about blindness. Jane who is nearing page 400. =============== Reply 47 of Note 7 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 08/11 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 2:04 AM I made it through last night. Glad I stuck around for the whole trip. It was easier going in the last third of the book. Mostly I don't hesitate over the words. Just let 'em flow over me, understanding comes from the context most of the time. And I'm convinced McCarthy made some of them up. So, now, Marty. What does it all mean? Why do we follow this not-very-admirable man through these repetitious happenings which seem to lead nowhere. I didn't have the feeling that S was going to lead a much different life even if he did leave Knoxville. Ruth, recovering from the Great Western Power Outrage =============== Reply 48 of Note 7 =================  
To: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Date: 08/11 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 4:28 AM First of all, that was me on the Paul Simon rec. It's a great album. As to McCarthy's use of obscure words, there's something to say here. One of the book reviewers said that McCarthy used big words to force his readers to slow down and pay attention to what he is doing. This reviewer went on to say that McCarthy's novels were not at all typical in terms of narrative structure--that they tend to begin and move steadily forward with no discernible climax or denoument, etc. ...just to an ending. He thought the big words, then, were an effort on McCarthy's part to literally alter the pace of the books--to make the reader have to work to get at the image or whatever so that it sticks. When I took the dictionary to OUTER DARK, I found out that almost all the unfamiliar words had to do with either things religious or with birth--in many cases they were medical terms. as the birth of a child is one of the big themes of that book, I thought the use of those words was quite significant. There's another option, too. McCarthy is very much a craftsman. And the way those words sound together, especially when read aloud, is important. Very important. seems to me that McCarthy's bringing a poet's ear to the novel. Cadence and rhythm and all of that. And oftentimes, no other word will do. --IDJP =============== Reply 49 of Note 7 =================  
To: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Date: 08/11 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 4:33 AM Another thing: I think McCarthy may be at pains to break the suspension of disbelief in the reader. His work is consciously artistic; by that I mean he's making sure that you KNOW that he's writing a novel. The telling of the story is in itself a point of the story. Expect to ======== some elaboration on this point re: THE CROSSING before I leave for El Paso. There's a real tension in that book between the achievements of the hero and the task of the storyteller. --IDJP =============== Reply 50 of Note 7 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 08/11 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 4:38 AM Jane, Ah, yes, the blindness thing. It's all over McCarthy. For one of the most disturbing scenes (for my money) in all of literature, a scene that rivals the blinding scene in KING LEAR, see THE CROSSING. It's another blinding scene, and it's done brilliantly. Then the blind man speaks of what it's like to be blind. Chilling. I'd say more, but I'm not sure yet what to make of blindness in McCarthy. In fact, I was planning to write a paper on that very subject for one of these conferences, but it proved to be too daunting a task for me given the constraints of time. I feel a master's thesis in that someplace, though. --IDJP =============== Reply 51 of Note 7 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 08/11 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 4:43 AM Ruth, I'm not sure myself what it all means. Look at my initial post...the one I reposted earlier in this thread. Some of the critics say it don't mean nothing at all . Personally, I'm inclined to take them at their literal word there--reading the double negative to say that SUTTREE emphatically Does Mean Something. What, I don't know. I wish I did. Any ideas? --IDJP =============== Reply 52 of Note 7 =================  
To: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Date: 08/11 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 4:57 AM Part of the reason we follow this not very admirable (or is he after all quite admirable?) man is undoubtedly due to the power of McCarthy's prose. Do you, in the final analysis, CARE what happens to Suttree? I think there's something noble in him, something irrepressibly American that we identify with. Whether it's independence or self-reliance or that continual searching that we all do (or some other thing I can't put my finger on), we can somehow relate to Suttree. And what of the doubling, Suttree and antiSuttree, etc. that happens throughout the book and throughout McCarthy's writing generally, until (in SUTTREE, anyway) McCarthy says that Suttree "came to see that there was one Suttree and one Suttree only." I think that's absolutely pivotal. and why all the humor in this essentially somber book? In the answers to these questions or others like them lies the meaning of this book. I'm not sure yet WHAT the answers are. Currently, I'd say that we followed Suttree on his journey because Suttree had something to teach us. I wish I could put into words what I think that is. McCarthy's books keep me up nights trying to impose some sort of meaning on them...a meaning that may not even be there. Thus far, I've been unable to get much farther than to believe that for McCarthy, the telling of the story as an act--possibly an act of sacrifice on the part of the writer--is AT LEAST as important as the story told. Cf. THE CROSSING. I'd like to know what Dale (the writer) thinks of this hare-brained idea of mine. --IDJP =============== Reply 53 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/11 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 3:22 PM No, Marty, I don't really care what happens to Suttree. I did at first. But after I saw the guy kick the footings out from under himself over and over again, I didn't give a damn. As you said, I was very, very aware that I was watching the author play with language. And play he does. Sometimes I gloried in it, sometimes I wanted him to just get on with things. I'm one of those vocabulary sponges and word-root freaks, so the vocabulary didn't throw me too much, and a lot of it's clear from the context. But that kind of reading is slow-going, no matter what. It forces you to apply the brakes to your rush to what-happens-next, and look at the writing. It's a very self-conscious book. Interesting that you should say that about McCarthy's wanting us to be aware of the act of writing. I certainly was. It reminds me of Jackson Pollock and how he felt his paintings were important in that they were a record of the act of painting. I didn't, however, think this book was funny. Those poor, ignorant, drunken, broken people are too pitiful to be funny. And as I said before, I must be lacking the good-ol-boy humor gene. Ruth, in hot & sunny CA =============== Reply 54 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/11 From: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Time: 7:34 PM Marty RE: the unfamiliar words -- I reached a similiar conclusion this morning. "Alienization" is the word that came to mind; as if McCarthy wanted the reader to realize that Suttree's world is like nothing we've ever seen before, where the fish aren't "coppery," they're "cupreous." Like a visit to another world -- which it is. And, no arguement here, it's beautiful. At no point do I get the impression that McCarthy was working with a Super Thesaurus under his elbow -- the words flow, and they work. I just can't help but wonder at the mechanics of it all. Peggy =============== Reply 55 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/11 From: BUYS59A BARBARA HILL Time: 11:04 PM There is a scene in the book where Suttree is talking to the ragpicker that I thought after reading it that if the book is "about" something that would be my guess as to what it was about. This is the scene: You told me once you believed in God. The old man waved his hand. Maybe, he said. I got no reason to think he believes in me. Oh I'd like to see him for a minute if I could. What would you say to him? Well, I think I'd just tell him. I'd say: Wait a minute. Wait just one minute befor you start in on me. Before you say anything, there's just one think I'd like to know. And he'll say: What's that? And then I'm goin to ast him: What did you have me in that crapgame down there for anyway? I couldn't put any part of it together. Suttree smiled. What do you think he'll say? The ragpicker spat and wiped his mouth. I don't believe he can answer it, he said. I don't believe there is an answer. B. Hill in Oregon =============== Reply 56 of Note 7 =================  
To: BUYS59A BARBARA HILL Date: 08/12 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 2:35 AM Barbara, That's a wonderful quote and I do believe it may be the very nugget of the book. I wonder how I let it slide past me, especially since it captures my philosophy pretty neatly. Ruth =============== Reply 57 of Note 7 =================  
To: BUYS59A BARBARA HILL Date: 08/12 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 6:29 AM Barb, I marked that scene in my copy as something I really liked, but didn't think of it as such a central point. With thought now that I read your post, you may be right. Thanks for posting it. Barb M....who spent *all* day Sunday reading SUTTREE =============== Reply 58 of Note 7 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 08/12 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 12:20 PM Barbara, Marty, et al: I may be going overboard here, but it seemed to me that Suttree was a 24-kt Christ-figure. A man who lived among the thieves and whores and drunks, who cared for them, and yet had his terrible human side as well. He certainly had disciples. And I think you can read the final scenes as portraying Suttree's death, resurrection and final entry onto a journey into a life completely beyond his previous mortal existence. On the other hand, it could just be a novel about a drunk. Hard to tell with these literary things. Dick in Alaska, returned from the wilderness unscathed =============== Reply 59 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/12 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:55 PM Dick, Barbara, Barbara, Ruth, and Marty, You have given me alot to think about, and I thank you. I have about twenty pages to read, and I can't get over how often he mentions people's eyes. Besides Blind Richard (and was I surprised to see that he had a wife), there is one-eye d Doll. Marty, you are right! This would make a great dissertation. Jane who will finish later tonight. =============== Reply 60 of Note 7 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 08/12 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 11:37 PM Jane: The blindness thing is certainly interesting. There is a good deal in the Book of Jeremiah (e.g. 5:21) that bears on this and more in 'Suttree'. Plus, did you catch the e.e. cummings nod at the beginning of a chapter -- 'In just spring...." Mr. McCarthy plays a great many games, all at once. Dick in Alaska, dining tonight on his kill =============== Reply 61 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/13 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 0:25 AM Dick, as long as we're doing the allusion game, did you catch the one to Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy evening"? It's at the end of one of the chapters: "and Suttree with his miles to go...." --IDJP, thinking you're right about Suttree as Christ figure. More or less, anyway. =============== Reply 62 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/13 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 1:07 AM Marty: I think there are at least four 'Suttrees' in there -- the Suttree cum youthful Cormac McCarthy, the Suttree as alienated intellectual, the Suttree as 'everyman' and the Suttree as Christ figure. Now these figures swim in and out of focus, combining and recombining, merging and separating, at various places in the narrative -- the same character, but in its different facets, relected back by the events being described, and refracted by the angle of view of the narrator-storyteller. Borrowing heavily from my favorite art book, I think it is almost a cubist perspective -- at any given moment, we see Suttree spread in unnatural perspective on the narrative canvas -- fully but not necessarily clearly revealed. And each viewpoint is simultaneously astonishing in it's haunting similarity to other, still dissimilar, views. In sum, I find the McCarthy more similar to Ondaatje's work than I do Faulkner, although without question there is much here that traces back to WF. Perhaps the sameness between McCarthy and Ondaatje is that they are essentially modern writers whereas WF seems flummoxed by the transition into the 20th century -- somewhat like the society in which he lived and wrote, perhaps. In sum, however, while I can see similarities I don't see McCarthy as derivative of any writer I know. He is an original -- for good and ill. Personally, I've loved both the books we've read by McCarthy. A remarkable writer -- if a tad prolix on his more manic days. I shall have to wire ahead to Nashville, and arrange for a suitably formidable martini to be awaiting the IDJP, to salute his good taste in books. Good job, Martin! Dick in Alaska, where he did indeed note the Frost allusion, and missed God knows how many others =============== Reply 63 of Note 7 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 08/13 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 9:57 AM Jane, As long as we're talking about eyes, don't forget the doll's eyes used as a good luck charm by the Indian fisherman. I'm way behind on this book, as I seem to be travelling the continent this month, going from California to Northern Wisconsin and preparing to drive to Pennsylvania in a week. YIKES! It seems I'm really good at detecting symbols, not so good at interpreting them--or at least not taking the time to try. Sherry =============== Reply 64 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/13 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 11:49 AM Marty & All: I'm enjoying the discussion of SUTTREE, here. Excellent choice, if I may say. Harrogate, God bless him, is one of my favorite comic characters in all of fiction. OK, humor me on this... What if John Bradshaw and all the self-help guys are wrong, and our true "Inner Child" is not some lovable, beneficent cherub, but...HARROGATE?! A disturbing thought, I know, but it has such an eerie logic to me I don't think it should be dismissed out of hand. >>Dale's inner child, hogging his ID in Ala. =============== Reply 65 of Note 7 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 08/13 From: FNMN56E LYNN EVANS Time: 11:54 AM Dale -- Is your humor drier than I recall?! Either you're proposing in all seriousness that John Bradshaw might have got it wrong (egads!) or your humor has taken on a decidedly midwestern, mountains-er-nice-but-they-sure-block-the-view flavor... Lynn =============== Reply 66 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/13 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 1:15 PM Excellent notes. I am simply amazed at how much I like this book when I've been avoiding McCarthy for so long, despite my brother's urgings. I first read OUTER DARK by McC. (because it was the only McCarthy my library owned about 5 years ago) and, though I couldn't put it down and it has stayed with me, it was so incredibly dark that I had no wish to experience him again. However, SUTTREE is so much easier for me to digest...and it's not just the humor, though that helps. The language here pulls me the multitude of ways in which he uses it. On a more specific note, can anyone tell me the derivation of "Give over, Graymalkin, there are horsemen on the road with horns of fire, with withy roots"? It's on pg. 282 of my Vintage International edition after he leaves the dwarf witch's house. The section in which S. finds the ragman dead was the most touching since he confronted his mother in prison. He seems so emotionally anesthetized that when he releases pure feeling, it is extremely striking to me. I've had to slow down after spending the whole day Sunday reading this, due to the pressures of the rest of my life. And, I think McCarthy's right...this is supposed to be read a few pages at a time. The words and scenes lose some of their impact when gulped. Barb =============== Reply 67 of Note 7 =================  
To: FNMN56E LYNN EVANS Date: 08/13 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 8:19 PM Lynn-- Re: Harrogate as Inner Child, I was serious. For the most part. Somewhat. Sort of. A little. I think. Sometimes, it's hard to know for sure. I rely daily on my patron saint, Ms. O'Connor, who spoketh on the writer's art: "But how can I know what I think, till I see what I said?" And in the tradition of our great nation's great political institutions, I'll amplify what I *really* meant after I scan the general response. >>Dale, planning to vote against General Response come November... =============== Reply 68 of Note 7 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 08/13 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 10:25 PM Barb: That Graymalkin quote is a stunner -- I have no idea where it comes from, if derived at all. Graymalkin is either a cat or, more likely, the old lady herself. 'Give over' seems to refer to her prophecy which she doesn't provide. 'Horsemen with horns of fire' is an incredible image, but other than some vaguely similar stuff in the Book of Kings, relating to Elijah and heading off to heaven (which could be right, but isn't obvious) I can't find anything that fits. The last part, 'with withy roots' is (in my copy, at least) 'with withy roods' -- i.e., with willow crosses. Putting it all together, I read it as follows: Suttree is angry at the old lady's failure to cough up a suitable fortune. He sees her on the street, and in his high mystical mode, pronounces doom upon her: 'Give me what I want old lady, there are great forces loosed here, armed with terrible weapons.' And Suttree walks away, his very tread shaking the earth beneath the city. I mean, Suttree is REALLY pissed. Frankly, I think he may internalize some of this stuff too much, but clearly this isn't a mental health handbook. Dick in Alaska, where a delicious summer just seems to go on and on =============== Reply 69 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/13 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 11:02 PM Dick, Thanks...good analysis, but don't you think that there's got to be a literary basis for this *somewhere*?!? "Graymalkin" just seems like too specific a name and the images don't really fit with the language in that particular section. Plus, McCarthy does like to make these literary references.... But, I don't have a clue. Without a doubt though, I am absolutely sure that this is not a mental health handbook...have figured that much out. Love the way you snuck that little observation in at the end of your note. Barb =============== Reply 70 of Note 7 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 08/14 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 0:23 AM Barb: 'Graymalkin' is a synonym for a cat; likewise an old woman or crone. The capitalization stumps me however. Dick in Alaska, lexicographically aground =============== Reply 71 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/14 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 11:14 AM I've never heard that before, Dick...and me, the catlover (though nowhere near Cathy's league in that arena). Barb =============== Reply 72 of Note 7 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 08/14 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 12:42 PM Barb: Did some reading, and this might be the allusion: check out Act I, Scene I, line 9 of 'MacBeth' -- one of the witches is referred to as 'Graymalkin' (which, interestingly, is a variant of the more common version 'grimalkin' -- either McCarthy was grasping at the second level of obscurity, or perhaps this is a specific reference to 'MacBeth'). Also, read the prophecy scene (I, III) with MacBeth and Banquo -- Suttree and Quinn? Not too far-fetched, but more of a suggestion than an outright derivation. Candidly, I think this guy is being financed by several major university English Departments, determined to revitalize their graduate programs in the face of declining enrollments and the proliferation of MBA drones. Back later after I check out 'alt.rec.conspiracies' on the net. Dick in Alaska, on a magnificent morning =============== Reply 73 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/14 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 9:01 PM Wow, Dick...Thank you! I don't have MacBeth here at hand, but will read it at the library. Thanks for doing all that digging. I finished the book today and am really taken with these two Suttrees and the meaning of all that. He left the hospital saying that he had learned that there was only one Suttree, then he finds a dead man's body in his cot at the houseboat...probably the anti-Suttree, right? Does this mean that the Suttree that was living at the bottom of the world is dead and that the living one can go on to better things...not necessarily going back to the life he grew up in, but at least progressing instead of this constant self-destruction? This seems particularly possible after Marty's note regarding McCarthy's life prior to writing this book and his comment that he stopped drinking because all of the people he wrote about in this book are dead. BTW, that comment surprises me since McCarthy seems to be so closed about what from his life influences how he writes. But, also...this last scene reeks of the resurrection of Christ...which makes me think that you're right, Dick, about the 4 different roles that Suttree plays here. On a different thought, I think that all of this comparison of McCarthy to Faulkner, etc. is pretty futile. I'm certainly not a literary scholar, but it seems to me that, whatever went into the pot that brewed McCarthy's skills, he pretty much stands alone as a writer. He seems so unique to me that what we are going to see is lots of future writers influenced by him. BTW, I have a nephew who is studying in the writing program at University of Texas and writing some stuff that I find pretty impressive. However, early in his program, one of the first comments made was that he needed to crawl out from under this McCarthy influence that was pervading his writing. Now, I understand why it was there. Barb =============== Reply 74 of Note 7 =================  
To: ALL Date: 08/14 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 10:46 PM Just found an article on HOMEWORK HELPER by Edwin Arnold, the man who Marty referred to as finding Suttree deeply concerned with theology. It's very interesting...worth the time if you want to go read it. I should have realized long ago that McCarthy was raised a Catholic. Not being a Catholic myself, it's hard to put that into words. However, the deep guilt and despair along with all the symbolism, whether it is significant or not, jives with many of my close Catholic friends and their upbringing. In addition, so many of the references fit with Catholicism. One quick point from the article that was a bit astonishing to me is that SUTTREE was apparently written over a 20 year period! Is that generally accepted, Marty? Arnold obviously thinks that SUTTREE is McCarthy's greatest work. Also, Arnold jogged my memory about Suttree's still-born twin and the quote that the twin is "in the limbo of Christless righteousness" while Suttree is in a "terrestrial hell." And, that after he was out of the hospital, he said he had been granted a kind of grace. Also, Grace is given as his mother's name and he describes himself as "the son of Grace." Yet, didn't they give the impression that his father had married beneath is Grace a child of these Knoxville slums? But, I digress. Is Suttree's stillborn twin simply symbolic of the self-destructive, wandering Suttree that I'm presuming to have died in the end? Or, is it even more? Ah, be still my buzzing brain. Marty, I truly understand now why you have been obsessing over this man. Barb =============== Reply 75 of Note 7 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 08/15 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 0:58 AM Barbara, et. al., Yes, McCarthy was raised Catholic. I took it for granted that you guys would have known that; sorry. In light of that, though, what do you think about McCarthy's current religious beliefs based on SUTTREE? I think that about the best you can say is that he's probing (religious and other matters of a "cosmic" nature) deeply, with no real agenda to push other than that sort of meditative exploration. I suspect that's the job of the real writer anyway. Blekistan, one of the foremost critics of Faulkner's work, said that the genius of THE SOUND AND THE FURY is that Faulkner only half-wrote the book, that it's rewritten by every reader on every trip through the book. Is that true of SUTTREE (assuming arguendo that it's true of Faulkner)? Is that a positive quality? Yes, SUTTREE is assumed generally to have taken 20 years for McCarthy to write. That means, by the way, that he would have started work on it in 1959, a full six years before the publication of his "first" novel, THE ORCHARD KEEPER, in 1965. In the process of writing SUTTREE, then, McCarthy was also occupied with three other novels and a screenplay (THE GARDENER'S SON, forthcoming from Ecco Press) and one version of what later became THE STONEMASON--that I know of. I'm of the opinion (right now, anyway) that Suttree's stillborn twin WAS literally the antiSuttree. When Sut dealt with whatever he resolved on his half crazed wandering through the wilderness, that Suttree (the twin) was finally laid to rest. Speaking of that sequence, what do you make of Suttree's wanderings in the wilderness? And what of the death of his love interest? And did you late readers of THE SOUND AND THE FURY catch the references to Quentin in the fevered dreams Sut had at hospital (notice all the watches)? And Barbara, I'm glad someone here finally gets my obsession. --IDJP, exhausted after the first day back in law school, with WAY too much legal reading to do. I'll try to respond to some of these posts more fully tomorrow afternoon; I fear I've been negligent in my duties here of late. My regular old computer, however, has returned from repair-land exile, so at least I'm back up to speed. =============== Reply 76 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/15 From: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Time: 11:16 AM We just slid in under this deadline for the beginning of law school, didn't we? Am glad we made it...your comments add enormously to the experience. My impressions are that McCarthy is probing, as well. However, my experience is that a Catholic upbringing does not just up and fly away one day. I started to say that this is probably true of any religious upbringing, but I really don't think so. I was taken to an American Baptist church every Sunday (my mother would have been quick to emphasize American as opposed to Southern Baptist...sort of like being a Methodist) and I don't find that it has as much impact on my approach to life as many other experiences. Death is being constantly dealt with in this book and I wonder if CM's almost obsession with it has to do partly with his Catholicism, partly with what was happening to those around him and, of course, partly due to his own far-reaching intellectual curiosity. That last guess is because I've been reading Tolstoy all summer who carried his own obsession with death and, though they seem at polar opposites, I find the same vast process of thought. It's a no-brainer for me that a book that can be "rewritten by every reader on every trip through the book" is positive. Though I wouldn't want every single book I read to be of that type, I find I learn most from those that are. Some of the comments on IN THE LAKE OF THE WOODS on its string indicate the same feelings. And, as to your other questions, I'm still thinking. Totally did not catch the references to Quentin. Barb =============== Reply 77 of Note 7 =================  
To: NCSH82B BARBARA MOORS Date: 08/15 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 11:58 PM Barbara and Marty, Speaking of death, I can pinpoint three times in this work when Suttree almost died. 1) When he was hit with the floorbuffer, 2) when he was in the wilderness and starving and 3) from the typhoid. And he probably almost died from alcoholic poisoning a couple of times. This man has a death wish. Jane who has now read four works of McCarthy =============== Reply 78 of Note 7 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 08/16 From: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Time: 0:48 AM Y'all should see if you can construct a Stations of the Cross from this book and that crazy old codger Suttree. Theresa, who has tried to read Suttree twice, and closed the book both times (but not because I thought it was a bad book - I'm sure that Moby Dick is might fine literature, too, but I'll be damned if I ever read it). =============== Reply 79 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/16 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 10:37 PM Marty and all, Perhaps Suttree's voyage into North Carolina is supposed to parallel Jesus's 40 days in the wilderness. What do you think? Jane who enjoyed this book. =============== Reply 80 of Note 7 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 08/16 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 11:12 PM Jane: I think that without the Carolina trip, Suttree would have been only a 22 kt. Christ figure. Detail counts, particularly in Christography. Dick in Alaska still doing dishes from last night's barbecue =============== Reply 81 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/17 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 11:38 PM Dick, I have been thinking about the trip to North Carolina and though it seems at first like Christ's 40 days in the wilderness, in another way it is the opposite. This trip is about the only time that Suttree is not tempted by something. He is always subject to temptation in the rest of the book. So perhaps Suttree is the anti-christ and not a Christ figure at all. Just a thought. Jane who is feeling sorry for herself because she has to go back to work on Monday. =============== Reply 82 of Note 7 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 08/18 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 11:57 AM Jane: Easy there. We ALL have to go back to work Monday. You're quite right that the Carolina jaunt is not an exact metaphor for the 40 days in the wilderness -- not much in 'Suttree' is 'exact' in that sense. Seems to me that McCarthy tells the story on several levels at once and that the allusions are just that -- references to moral arguments he's making in the text, signposts for plot and theme development, but not didactic 'symbols'inserted for the edification and explication of earnest English majors. I very much enjoyed this book -- found it much more comprehensible than 'Blood Meridian', and hence more satisfying to read. Dick in Alaska where it's supposed to hit 70 degrees today -- amazing =============== Reply 83 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/18 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 2:23 PM Dick, BUT is it BETTER than BLOOD MERIDIAN?? --The Irrepressible DJP 8/18/96 1:17PM CT =============== Reply 84 of Note 7 =================  
To: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Date: 08/18 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 9:06 PM IDJP: You're the fella who's heading off to Ph.D central one of these days -- I just read to pass the time between prostate examinations. So I'm afraid you'll have to tell us which of the books is 'better' -- all I can talk about, book or examination wise, is how much fun I had (or didn't have, as the case may be). Dick in Alaska, who on balance, prefers reading =============== Reply 85 of Note 7 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 08/25 From: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Time: 9:41 PM I know I'm lagging behind, but I finally finished SUTTREE this morning. I can't put my finger on why, but I didn't "fall into" this one like I did BLOOD MERIDIAN. I could have walked away from the characters and the story any time -- only McCarthy's poetic prose kept me reading (he must have been born with different eyes then the rest of us). Like Ruth (I think), I found SUTTREE more sad than funny -- though I did chuckle over Harrogate's bat scheme. I found him to be the most engaging character of the lot. he may have been a loser, but he was a loser with plan. I also felt a strange pull during Suttree's wilderness trek -- the scene where he sees/imagines/hallucinates the parade of fabled beasts. I know there's a reference here, but I can't put my finger on it. (It's like a tune on the tip of my tongue). Shakespeare, maybe? Finally (and this may be kind of an odd reference), through most of the novel, I couldn't help thinking about a book I mentioned earlier in the "Forbidden Teen Age Literature" thread -- THE FRISCO KID, by Jerry Kamstra. Admittedly, these two books aren't in the same literary league (Kamstra couldn't carry McCarthy's jock, much less sharpen his pencils), but the basic tale is the same. Change Knoxville to San Francisco, the hicks to hippies, and the 'shine to weed and you're halfway there. Both Suttree and The Kid hang out on society's fringe, have a lot of friends with colorful names that they periodically save, and every fifty pages or so they stop hanging with those friends and wander the city, looking at things from a different angle. THE FRISCO KID was published in 1975, four years before SUTTREE, but I doubt there was any cross-pollinization. Peggy =============== Reply 86 of Note 7 =================  
To: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Date: 08/26 From: DCTW04A MARTY PRIOLA Time: 5:16 PM Peggy and all, One more note about SUTTREE. Because I have another question that I'd like to get responses from you guys about. It appears to be a simple one, but it may not be. In light of SUTTREE (and BLOOD MERIDIAN and any other McCarthy that you may have read), is Cormac McCarthy a modernist? Why or why not? My own opinion is that he's stylistically the perfect conjoining of Hemingway and Faulkner. With a little Twain and Melville thrown in for leavening. Content-wise, though, it's a whole other thing. He seems to be consciously rebelling against the modernist notion of what I'll call internality--that is the thoughts of the characters are where the story REALLY is, cf. Faulkner's THE SOUND AND THE FURY and Virginia Woolf's TO THE LIGHTHOUSE. Now, is that anti-modern, postmodern, classicist or what? Am I right in my assessment? Why or why not? Okay, so maybe it was more than one question. --The Irrepressible DJP 8/26/96 4:11PM CT


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