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Suttree (1979) is a semi-autobiographical novel by Cormac McCarthy. Set in Knoxville, Tennessee over a four-year period starting in 1950, the novel follows Cornelius Suttree, who has repudiated his former life of privilege to become a fisherman on the Tennessee River. The novel has a fragmented structure with many flashbacks and shifts in grammatical person.


  • In the long arcade of the bus station footfalls come back like laughter. He marches darkly toward his darkly marching shape in the glass of the depot door. His fetch come up from life's other side like an autoscopic hallucination, Suttree and Antisuttree, hand reaching to the hand.
    • Chapter 1, page 28
  • How surely are the dead beyond death. Death is what the living carry with them. A state of dread, like some uncanny foretaste of a bitter memory. But the dead do not remember and nothingness is not a curse. Far from it.
    • page 153
  • Where hunters and woodcutters once slept in their boots by the dying light of their thousand fires and went on, old teutonic forebears with eyes incandesced by the visionary light of a massive rapacity, wave on wave of the violent and the insane, their brains stoked with spoorless analogues of all that was, lean aryans with their abrogate semitic chapbook reenacting the dramas and parables therein and mindless and pale with a longing that nothing save dark's total restitution could appease.
    • page 4
  • Put away these frozenjawed primates and their annals of ways beset and ultimate dark. What deity in the realms of dementia, what rabid god decocted out of the smoking lobes of hydrophobia could have devised a keeping place for souls so poor as in this flesh. This mawky wormbent tabernacle.
    • page 130
  • Pale manchild were there last agonies? Were you in terror, did you know? Could you feel the claw that claimed you? And who is this fool kneeling over your bones, choked with bitterness? And what could a child know of the darkness of God's plan? Or how flesh is so frail it is hardly more than a dream.
    • page 154
  • He reached down and tapped Suttree's knee with his forefinger. You, my good buddy, are a fourteen carat gold plated son of a bitch. That's what your problem is. And that being your problem, there's not a whole lot of people in sympathy with you. Or with your problem.
  • I believe it's the end of the world.
    Harrogate was looking at the pavement. He said it again.
    Look at me, Suttree said.
    He looked up. Sad pinched face, streaked with grime.
    Are you serious?
    Well what do you think about it?
    Suttree laughed.
    It aint funny, said Harrogate.
    You're funny, you squirrely son of a bitch. Do you think the world will end just because you're cold?
    It aint just me. It's cold all over.
    It's not cold by Rufus's stove. Now get your ass up there. I'll see you later.
    • page 173
  • The priest looked at him. Do I know you? he said.
    Suttree placed one hand on the pew in front of him. An old woman was going along the altar rail with a dusting rag. He struggled to his feet. No, he said. You dont know me.
    The priest stepped back, inspecting is clothes, his fishstained shoes.
    I just fell asleep a minute. I was resting.
    The priest gave a little smile, lightly touched with censure, remonstrance gentled. God's house is not exactly the place to take a nap, he said.
    It's not God's house.
    I beg your pardon?
    It's not God's house.
    Suttree waved his hand vaguely and stepped past the priest and went down the aisle. The priest watched him. He smiled sadly, but a smile for that.
    • page 255
  • And what happens then?
    After you're dead.
    Dont nothing happen. You're dead.
    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 before you start in on me. Before you say anything, there's just one thing 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 couldnt put any part of it together.
    Suttree smiled. What do you think he'll say?
    The ragpicker spat and wiped his mouth. I dont believe he can answer it. I dont believe there is an answer.
    • page 258
  • Somewhere in the gray wood by the river is the huntsman and in the brooming corn and in the castellated press of cities. His work lies all wheres and his hounds tire not. I have seen them in a dream, slaverous and wild and their eyes crazed with ravening for souls in this world. Fly them.

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