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The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy

The Orchard Keeper (original 1965; edition 1993)

by Cormac McCarthy

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1,1962311,683 (3.58)65
In a small, remote community in rural Tennessee in the years between the two world wars, John Wesley Rattner, a young boy, and Marion Sylder, an outlaw and bootlegger who, unbeknownst to either of them, has killed the boy's father enact a drama that seems born of the land itself.
Title:The Orchard Keeper
Authors:Cormac McCarthy
Info:Vintage (1993), Paperback, 246 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy (1965)



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English (21)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
I decided to read McCarthy in order, including the novels I hadn't got around to reading the first time, because I just kept re-reading Blood Meridian. Well, as others have noted, this one is more or less McCarthy juvenilia. It gives you much of what is best about his later work--the sheer density of nouns, mostly--but also a bunch of what is worst about 20th century American literature: the tiresome scene-setting ("Fartswogton was a small town about twenty miles outside Nashville..."), the haziness masquerading as profundity (see also: Robinson, Marilynne, Housekeeping, which is more or less this book but with women instead of men), and the simultaneous need for a plot (because there are no ideas, or formal innovations, or really form at all) and inability to provide one.

On the other hand, this man could always write sentences. ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
Nebulous, incoherent story. Puts the authors poetic language across as pretentious, because it doesn't match the quality of the narrative, something the author does so well in his later works. It's something of historical interest for fans, but it's not representative, and i didn't enjoy it. ( )
  Misprint | Aug 31, 2020 |
2.[bc:The Orchard Keeper|46506|The Orchard Keeper|Cormac McCarthy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386924078s/46506.jpg|2824602]by[ai:Cormac McCarthy|4178|Cormac McCarthy|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1414695980p2/4178.jpg][a:Cormac McCarthy|4178|Cormac McCarthy|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1414695980p2/4178.jpg]
Finish date: January 2016
Genre: Fiction
Rating: B
Review: I prefer McCarthy's western novels, but The Orchard Keeper has the beginnings of his beautiful prose style.

It is nominally a coming of age tale set in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. A fatherless boy is influenced by two men. One is an older, recluse and the other a bootlegger.

The description of the mountains is absolutely beautiful, but with the exception of a couple scenes the story did not impress me.

I recommend Suttree and/or Blood Meridian instead.

[bc:Suttree|394469|Suttree|Cormac McCarthy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1397600192s/394469.jpg|1196119][bc:Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West|394535|Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West|Cormac McCarthy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1335231647s/394535.jpg|1065465]by[ai:Cormac McCarthy|4178|Cormac McCarthy|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1414695980p2/4178.jpg][a:Cormac McCarthy|4178|Cormac McCarthy|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1414695980p2/4178.jpg] ( )
  JWhitsitt | Jun 26, 2020 |
Some thoughts:
-The conclusion of *The Orchard Keeper* reminded me of the recent *Train Dreams* by Denis Johnson, to the point that I would argue that it is highly likely the former was a major influence on the latter. But Johnson's treatment of the same subject is sharper, honed. SPOILER While McCarthy simply talks about a way of life that has passed, Johnson's conclusion is a synecdoche, where the death of the protagonist (the part) is taken as the death of the way of life (the whole). Johnson's refinement is considerable, transforming a sentimental abstraction into something personal--an argument into a story. Sorry for the vagueness. In a nutshell: early McCarthy good, later Johnson better.
-I heard something once about early McCarthy having been mistaken (or easily mistakable) for Faulkner. I'm not a Faulkner specialist by any stretch, but that seems really wrong to me. From what I remember, Faulkner's basic stories are set roughly in the present or near past (i.e. at the time Faulkner himself was writing them). *The Orchard Keeper*, by contrast, is set in the distant past (again, relative to the time McCarthy was writing it)--31 to 24 years, that is. What for Faulkner is description is for McCarthy (here) nostalgia. McCarthy certainly outgrows this sort of nostalgic sentiment later, but it is (as far as I can tell) never Faulknerian, at least in that respect.
-Who ever said McCarthy has no sense of humor?
"Why I done it. Rung shells and shot your hootnanny all to hell? Where YOU from, heh? You talk like a God-damned yankee. What do you do for a livin, ast questions?"(OK, 221) ( )
  ralphpalm | Nov 11, 2019 |
. ( )
  Adammmmm | Sep 10, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Mr. McCarthy is expert in generating an emotional climate, in suggesting instead of in stating, in creating a long succession of brief, dramatic scenes described with flashing visual impact. He may neglect the motivation of some of his characters. He may leave some doubt as to what is going on now. But he does write with torrential power.
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For some time now the road had been deserted, white and scorching yet, though the sun was already reddening the western sky.
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In a small, remote community in rural Tennessee in the years between the two world wars, John Wesley Rattner, a young boy, and Marion Sylder, an outlaw and bootlegger who, unbeknownst to either of them, has killed the boy's father enact a drama that seems born of the land itself.

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The novel is set in a small, isolated community in Tennessee, during the inter-war period. It is the story of John Wesley Rattner, a young boy, and Marion Sylder, an outlaw and bootlegger, who has killed Rattner's father, a fact to which both are oblivious.
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