One of America’s most celebrated novelists, Cormac McCarthy announced his towering presence on the literary stage with his first novel, The Orchard Keeper. Within the pages of this classic work, John Wesley Rattner, his uncle Ather, and bootlegger Marion Sylder find their lives dangerously entwined in pre-World War II Tennessee. There, the men’s tragedies and struggles are mirrored by the looming specter of industrialization.
©1965 Cormac McCarthy (P)2013 Recorded Books
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
The disadvantage McCarthy has when an obsessive reader finally works back to his first book, is invariably McCarthy will be unfairly graded against his own amazing output. I liked 'Orchard Keeper'. I really did. It was superior in most ways to most writing out there, but it just didn't hold up against other McCarthy. If one considers 'Suttree' and 'Blood Meridian' to be his masterpieces (and thus 5 stars) and 'The Road', 'No Country for Old Men' and 'All the Pretty Horses'/'the Border Trilogy' to be solid pieces of American literature (all 4 stars), it is unavoidable that 'the Orchard Keeper' rates only three.
The great thing about reading this first McCarthy is you can see the germs of all of McCarthy's potential built into it. It contains the embryo of McCarthy's future greatness: great prose, amazing characters, beautiful scenes. If you love McCarthy, don't skip 'the Orchard Keeper', just don't expect it to blow you down, dry you out, and blow you away like 'Blood Meridian' or 'Suttree'.
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