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Lucy's Books

Old enough to be reading fairy tales again, and reading lots more for good measure.

Currently reading

A Town Like Alice
Nevil Shute
The Brothers Karamazov
Konstantin Mochulski, Andrew R. MacAndrew, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Suttree - Cormac McCarthy I aint no infidel. Dont pay no mind to what they say.
I always figured they was a God.
I just never did like him.

This is a world of Biblical proportions and ancient language; prose that tumbles, lurches, and forks like tributaries of the river where Suttree makes his home, shot through with a sense of universal wonder as well as doom. Much of what we see is either hollow or empty or different than it first appears. It is a book about the things, both human and inanimate, that we throw away, and what happens to everything that floats along and begins to decay or ferment in utter disregard and abandonment. A flotsam-and-jetsam-eyed view of the world, dirty and messy and ugly, but then surprisingly beautiful and touching, too. It is all the things that make up the world. This world and this man are either tumbling toward utter destruction or just about to be reborn; are these the same thing?

They was nine of us you know. Me and Elizabeth outlived all the boys and now she's gone and I'm in the crazy house. Sometimes I don't know what people's lives are for.

In many ways, the story resembles a river. It is often familiar, describing the same kinds of scenes many times; the way the city's lights reflect off of the river or the color of the grime on a bum's hands. But then we remember both that these are the daily images of Suttree's life and that a river often looks the same each day and at many places along its stretch, but in fact is never the same place twice, being constantly in a state of flow. These characters are in flux as well. Carnivalesque in all its fluctuating impermanence. The cast our hero meets resemble the squatting inhabitants in Steinbeck's [b:Cannery Row|4799|Cannery Row (Cannery Row Series, #1)|John Steinbeck|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1309212378s/4799.jpg|824028] or [b:Tortilla Flat|163977|Tortilla Flat|John Steinbeck|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347567359s/163977.jpg|890203], with Suttree playing the parts of voice-of-reason and reluctant compatriot when not abjuring aloofly. We see the seasons change and feel the rhythms of the land. But most of all, we are engrossed with a sense that if there is a God, he has abandoned this place or these people, and there is little they can do but try to find their own ways.

He said that even the damned in hell have the community of their suffering and he thought that he’d guessed out likewise for the living a nominal grief like a grange from which disaster and ruin are proportioned by laws of equity too subtle for divining.

It is beautiful. It is horrific. It is utterly worthwhile. Maybe.

He looked at a world of incredible loveliness. Old distaff Celt's blood in some back chamber of his brain moved him to discourse with the birches, with the oaks. A cool green fire kept breaking in the woods and he could hear the footsteps of the dead. Everything had fallen from him. He scarce could tell where his being ended or the world began nor did he care. He lay on his back in the gravel, the earth's core sucking his bones, a moment's giddy vertigo with this illusion of falling outward through blue and windy space, over the offside of the planet, hurtling through the high thin cirrus.

Suttree was certainly the most rewarding book I read this year, in calculations of effort to understand compared with value received. It won't be the last McCarthy work I tackle. He gets at something deep and primal within his characters and I can't wait to read more.