Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


The Orchard Keeper (1965)

by Cormac McCarthy

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,4273112,165 (3.55)71
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.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 71 mentions

English (28)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Very very bleak, but brilliantly thought out & complex. Loved the accents ( )
  ChrisGreenDog | Jul 22, 2023 |
Couldn't finish this. Lacks the pacing, mythical quality, and differentiation of characters that his later works have. I'll read more McCarthy novels, but if this was the first I'd ever tried it would also have been the last. ( )
  judeprufrock | Jul 4, 2023 |
I've had McCarthy's books all lined up in audio to be read since he released his last two books, earlier in the year. I just never got around to them, but with the passing of McCarthy, I figure it's time. I've only read two of his novels up to now, The Road, which I truly didn't enjoy, and No Country For Old Men, which I loved.

I've learned along the way that I can't read McCarthy, because his punctuation style pulls me out of the story constantly. I despise it. Which is likely a lot of the reason I didn't enjoy The Road.

So, audio it is.

I have to say that, while the first of McCarthy's twelve novels, released almost 60 years ago, is gorgeously written, I found the story rather thin and mostly underwhelming. It's okay, and it was an enjoyable read, but at the end of it, I was mostly left with a feeling of, is that it?

As a reader, I can see the talent in his words, and it's obvious that he had things to say, but hadn't quite hit the mark with this first release.

Let's see how the next one goes. ( )
  TobinElliott | Jun 20, 2023 |
Rereading McCarthy’s first novel, The Orchard Keeper, reminds me of the origins of his novels as he describes the mountain culture of East Tennessee. The story revolves around three characters: Uncle Arthur Ownby, an isolated woodsman, who lives beside a rotting apple orchard; John Wesley Rattner, a young mountain boy; and Marion Sylder, an outlaw and bootlegger. It begins as the young bootlegger Marion Sylder disposes of a man's body in an abandoned peach orchard, a place that serves as a metaphor for the culture's impending decline, after killing him out of self-defense. The body is discovered by the kindly guardian of the orchard, Arthur Ownby, who chooses not to report it. For seven years, he let it to rest in peace. The elderly man also values his personal solitude and tranquility, and when they are invaded by a government holding tank placed on a neighboring hill, he shoots his X at the tank.

Both men adhere to ancient mountain customs, which are by definition ungoverned by the laws of the encroaching contemporary world. In contrast to them, the law enforcement officials who eventually apprehend Sylder, beat him, and committed him to a mental facility appear degenerate. John Wesley Rattner, a youngster who hunts and traps, who is befriended by the two men, and who matures in the novel, represents another important aspect of the book. Ironically, he is the dead man's son. Even though the ancient customs are out of date, he chooses to remain faithful to them.

This first novel shows signs of the novelist that McCarthy will become as he travels further west in his some of his subsequent novels. It is a great place to introduce yourself as a reader of one of our country's greatest novelists. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jun 15, 2023 |
After reading his later novel "The Road", I thought I would give this early work a try.

Bottom line is this was one of the least appealing works of fiction I have read in a long time. The author's prolix style is off putting and frankly makes it seems that he is trying too hard. His writing style was often obscure and confusing - at several points during the novel I wondered what was actually transpiring.

While the premise of the work and Southern Gothic style had potential, this fell entirely flat. Not recommended. ( )
  la2bkk | Apr 14, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (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.
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
For some time now the road had been deserted, white and scorching yet, though the sun was already reddening the western sky.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


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.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
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.
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (3.55)
1 6
1.5 2
2 19
2.5 6
3 87
3.5 13
4 103
4.5 9
5 33

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 194,733,865 books! | Top bar: Always visible