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Publisher's Summary

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

What listeners say about The Orchard Keeper

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Contains the embryo of McCarthy's future greatness

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'.

41 people found this helpful

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McCarthy's first novel

This is as dark, complex, and beautiful as McCarthy's other works.
Ed Sala is not a great reader. He stumbles on some sentences, and his hard to understand sometimes. Richard Poe is much better.

7 people found this helpful

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my review of The Orchard keeper

wonderful book as all his books are, the narration was wonderful and I shall seek him out

3 people found this helpful

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A tendency to drift

I'm not going to lie - I found this one tougher-going. I've given it 4 stars because I'm a tragic Cormac McCarthy fan, and despite losing the narrative thread several times, the striking prose and rich characterisations alone are worth the price of admission.

1 person found this helpful

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  • K.
  • 06-09-17

not so good

I could not keep up with this book
it just changed courses to many times and I could not stay on track with the storyline.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • matt
  • 10-20-18

hard work, worth it

Even by McCarthys standards, this feels hard on the reader, he gives you nothing, it's fragmented, and tough to follow the plot (is there even a plot?).

but, as would expect, it is beautifully written, and feels intimately of a time and a place.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • B34VER
  • 04-25-19

Not impressed

I didn't really rate this, it seemed to lead nowhere. Shame as some other Cormac McCarthy books are among my favourite books of all time.

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  • Sean Calabrese
  • 02-05-19

Richly descriptive text!

Cormac McCarthy creates a world, paints vivid pictures with his words that stay with you for a long time. The Imagery he conjures up is hauntingly inspiring and leads to unexpected discoveries within the text as the reader percolates on it long after reading it. Considering this is Cormac McCarthy's first book, this bodes very well for all the subsequent books that followed it.! Brilliant!