Suttree in Knoxville

This topic contains 36 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  wesmorgan 5 months, 1 week ago.

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  • 03 May 2012 at 9:08 pm #1116

    wesmorgan
    Member

    Jack Neely has some news this week about Suttree developments in Knoxville in his “Secret History” column in Metro Pulse.

    One sentence makes the whole article worth the read: “Suttree is a literary colonoscopy, an unblinking investigation of Knoxville’s nether regions.” I wish that I had said that.


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    04 May 2012 at 5:37 am #1117

    Dowdy
    Member

    Love it. Thanks Wes. Have you had a drink in Suttree’s yet?


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    04 May 2012 at 5:39 am #1118

    Dowdy
    Member

    Oh, would you look at that – my avatar has decided to make an appearance. I had given up hope after fiddling to no avail with that gravatar business a while back.


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    04 May 2012 at 11:26 am #1121

    wesmorgan
    Member

    I just heard at breakfast this morning that Suttree’s has finally opened. I have not been there yet, but it will not take me too long to get there. Too bad that they will not be serving Red Top.


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    28 May 2012 at 7:47 am #1360

    wesmorgan
    Member

    It seems as if there is finally some action with respect to Suttree Landing along the waterfront in South Knoxville. In an article today in the Knoxville News Sentinel, Gerald Witt writes, “The beginnings of Sutree Park date back to at least 2008. Like many of the South Knoxville waterfront design plans, it hasn’t been revisited lately. Rogero [Knoxville's new mayor], however, has said that development there is one of her priorities. That’s how Sutree Park’s plan got dusted off.”

    So get a couple of ’46 or ’48 Ford hoods welded together and come on down and launch your craft this summer. It looks like you will have an appropriate place to do it.


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    21 Jun 2012 at 7:06 am #1608

    wesmorgan
    Member

    Perhaps Sut or whoever had the keys was out tossing down a excessive number of Red Caps the other evening. Anyway, somebody didn’t show up to open the gate for the grand opening of Suttree Landing yesterday. See the story by Gerald Witt in today’s Knoxville News Sentinel.


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    24 Jun 2012 at 12:52 pm #1632

    wesmorgan
    Member

    Fred Brown, a semi-retired reporter for the Knoxville News Sentinel, has a short article in today’s paper: ‘Suttree’ painted a not-so-pretty picture of Knoxville in the ’50s. The article is part of a special issue dealing with Knoxville in the decade of the 1950s which in turn is part of a series celebrating the paper’s 125th anniversary.


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    24 Jun 2012 at 2:56 pm #1633

    Ken
    Member

    From the Knoxville News Sentinel article:

    Wesley G. Morgan, a psychology professor at the University of Tennessee, has had an interest in McCarthy since the earliest novels. He’s writing a book on McCarthy’s stories located in East Tennessee.

    He thinks “Suttree,” is more than a reflection of Knoxville in the 1950s. It is actually set in Knoxville from 1950-55, says Morgan.

    “I read it as a kind of prose poem love story for Knoxville, despite its warts and ugliness of that time,” says Morgan. “And also the book is kind of a reminiscence of growing up, or being a young adult in that time.

    “I also think Cormac had a pretty warm feeling for Knoxville, despite all the violence (the book) it portrays.”

    When could we expect to see your book on McCarthy’s Southeastern works?


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    • This reply was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by  Ken.
    26 Jun 2012 at 2:39 pm #1640

    Glass
    Member

    Harrogate, the man said.
    Yessir.
    He looked him over. Goddamn if you aint a sadsack, he said. (36, my bold)

    I recall that a couple of McCarthy scholars (Chip Arnold and Wes Morgan come to mind) have noted McCarthy’s interest in comic books and the possibility that he alludes to these in some of the books (sorry, I can’t cite any examples at the moment).

    While reading the bit about sadsack in the passage wherein Harrogate is being processed into the workhouse to commence his 11/29 sentence, I couldn’t help but recall a comic book called Sad Sack that I read as a callow youth in the late ’60s/early ’70s and wondered if McCarthy was familiar with this comic book/comic strip figure.

    The title, according to Wikipedia, “was a euphemistic shortening of the military slang ‘Sad sack of shit,’ common during WW II.”

    How perfect a descriptor is that for Harrogate as it not only aptly brings his propensity to mess things up to the fore but it also metaphorically ties him to excrement, thus nicely anticipating his encounter with the sewer in his subterranean adventure later in the novel.

    Link to Sad Sack: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sad_Sack


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    29 Jun 2012 at 2:39 pm #1664

    wesmorgan
    Member

    Dowdy asked about Suttree’s Tavern in Knoxville upthread, and Peter Josyph just sent me the following article by Nina Martyris this morning: “Literary Tourism: At Suttree’s High Gravity Beer Tavern”.

    I wish I could write like that.


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    03 Jul 2012 at 12:42 pm #1675

    Richard L.
    Member

    Thanks for that link: Harrogate and Suttree: Felonious Monk.

    I can dig it.


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    • This reply was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by  Richard L..
    06 Jul 2012 at 6:50 pm #1690

    Glass
    Member

    It’s pretty good stuff that the etymology of “gauche” includes “totter” and “stagger.”
    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=gauche


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    06 Jul 2012 at 7:52 pm #1691

    Glass
    Member

    There is a palindromish quality in Suttree of the type Forbis writes about in BM. What piqued my interest a couple of weeks ago in this regard was a possible connection between the boy who is standing with Suttree at the river when the suicide is pulled ashore and the boy invites Suttree out to the Corner for a drink. He says “come out,” a phrase mirrored at the end of the book when Suttree “comes out” of the weeds just before he accepts a drink from the waterbearer. I don’t believe this waterbearer boy is the same boy from the river scene withe the suicide, but I did wonder if this area of the construction project and where Suttree ends up getting a ride out of town is in the vicinity of the Corner and whether the driver of the car is indeed the boy who offered that invitation to come out there five (?) years earlier.


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    07 Jul 2012 at 11:22 am #1692

    wesmorgan
    Member

    Peter: The boy in the crowd who greets Suttree on the bank of the river as the suicide is brought in is Joe (Junior) Long, J-Bone’s brother. It is doubtful that Joe would be the waterboy at the end of the novel as you note. The Corner Tavern in reality was not very close to where the road construction project was located, but I suppose that Joe could have been the driver of the car that picked Sut up. It might explain why the driver “…stopped for Suttree, he’d not lifted a hand” (p. 471). However the conversation, “Let’s go” by the driver and “Hello” from Sut hardly sounds like two old friends greeting each other after an accidental encounter. But I suppose the two could have planned their escape from Knoxville together. It is sure something to think about.


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    08 Jul 2012 at 12:19 pm #1695

    Glass
    Member

    Wes, thanks for the information about Joe and the Corner. I like what you said about how the conversation between Suttree and the driver. A couple of other details that appear on p. 10 (Joe and Sut on the riverbank) and the ending are the phrase “Let’s go,” and Suttree wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, to name a few of the ones I find the most interesting.

    Another tidbit that’s caught my attention while rereading Suttree is the visual and perhaps aural connection between “Yeegh” (Harrogate’s drunken utterance in the workhouse) and “Yegg.” I like how this links Harrogate to his future behavior — robber, thief, failed safecracker — in the published text and that excised scene involving Harrogate and Leonard you spoke about at the BM Conference. That the etymology of “Yegg” includes “huntsman” is interesting.

    Last, I’ve also been looking at the scene at the mansion (136) and the concept of Hortus Conclusus, an enclosed garden, sealed up. That concrete dolphin fountain is intriguing, the etymology of dolpin meaning “fish with a womb,” and thinking of this in terms of links between macule, macula and immaculate.


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    10 Jul 2012 at 12:12 pm #1698

    I really see nothing at the end of SUTTREE to suggest that the driver who picks up our hero is Joe (Junior) Long. The few words in this situation are too impersonal to indicate a Joe-Bud hookup. The driver looks to be symbolic like the waterboy, tropes for Bud Suttree’s new whole self escaping big bad Knoxville and its hell hounds (cops, filth, disease, low life, violence, death, etc.).

    Sorry, Wes, but I don’t see much if any of a warm feeling for Knoxville in this novel. There’s just too much in it to suggest otherwise. I agree that on one level it’s about a young man growing up and coming to terms with his better self. How much he actually does change is certainly debatable.


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    11 Jul 2012 at 2:01 pm #1703

    wesmorgan
    Member

    Bob: My thinking takes two different lines. The first has to do with what I think were Cormac’s own feelings toward Knoxville. I would point out that Cormac, after traveling the States for the best part of a year and doing a tour in the Air Force, elected to return to Knoxville to live and continue his education even though he could have gone most anywhere. And then later after traveling Europe, marrying an English woman and living off the coast of Spain for a year, decided to bring his relatively new bride back to Knoxville to live when they could have gone about anywhere. These are the actions of someone who liked a good bit about his old home town. Now, does the novel Suttree reflect this warm feeling toward Knoxville? I suppose we could reasonably differ about this. I will grant you that Sut doesn’t think much of his educational experience in Knoxville. However I would argue that it is the personal relationships and interesting people that best characterize the place in which we live. And Sut does seem to have warm feelings toward most non-authority figures in the novel. Even though in the end Sut decided to move on, I think he felt warmly about the place in spite of its ugly side.


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    11 Jul 2012 at 8:58 pm #1705

    He likes “the good hearts of McAnally,” Harrogate, and other close friends of Bud. But I don’t think the novel as a whole shows any real like for the city. There are all kinds of negative, some quite doleful, depictions of people, places and things in K-ville. Even birds sit mute on wires and shit. In one place Bud and Harrogate talk about caves under downtown Knoxville and the possibility of downtown caving in. Bud, if I recall (don’t have the text here)says something to the effect that a great cave-in would be a fine thing. Granted, this is said partly jokingly (I guess), but there are many other places where the narrator is dead-serious about how wretched the city is but makes no attempt to provide anything even approaching positive balance except in Bud’s friends from whom our hero always keeps his haut bourgeois distance. The novel’s ending shows a fiery, smoke-filled Knoxville with workers toiling in a pit of hell, relieved only by Lazarus-like waterbearer boy whose eyes twin with Bud’s. I could cite all kinds of other examples of my contentions here, but am traveling in the Midwest right now and don’t have the time.

    Anyway, it’s always good to hear from you, Wes, even in disagreement.


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    23 Jul 2012 at 9:35 pm #1740

    Glass
    Member

    “The jar of his heels on the pavement kept stopping the fans that spun above the shop-doors.” (Suttree 282)

    Is this possible? Is Suttree making them wobble and stop working? I’d try this in my house to see if I can do it but I don’t want to wake the wife and the cats. This also makes me think of the various references to clocks both stopped and running in the book.


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    25 Jul 2012 at 11:02 am #1744

    Anonymous

    Glass: I puzzled over that sentence for a while as well. I now take it to mean that the jarring of his heels caused him to blink, which will in fact make fan blades appear to “freeze” momentarily.


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    25 Jul 2012 at 4:38 pm #1745

    Glass
    Member

    Bud, thanks for the response. I like that explanation. And it ties in quite nicely with the recurring theme of frozen/freeze frame moments throughout the novel. So, that’s very nice. Linda Woodson wrote a beautiful and impossibly deep paper on Suttree exploring that. I just read the Woodson piece about a month ago and I thought it was absolutely spot on. Again, that’s a nice reading on your part, Bud. Good stuff.


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    25 Jul 2012 at 8:29 pm #1746

    Anonymous

    Glad to do it, Peter. I need to check out Ms. Woodson’s work. The wonders in this book seem almost infinite.


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    28 Jul 2012 at 5:34 pm #1754

    Glass
    Member

    Exploring this puzzling passage a little bit more with Bud’s idea of a frozen moment of sorts in mind, I thought perhaps this episode may have some resonance with Einstein’s famous thought experiments which helped lead him to his ideas on relativity. I was also reminded of an early scene in Child of God with Ballard at the barn as “Wasps pass through the laddered light from the barnslats in a succession of strobic moments...Standing in the forebay door he blinks. (4, my bold)

    So, like Suttree likely did during his strobic moment, Ballard also blinks. I’m always interested in examples of coils, swirls and whirls and the like in McCarthy, so I was delighted to learn that strobe is from the Greek strobos, which means “to whirl.”

    On the same page (282) that fan blades appear to stop moving in an optical allusion, there is the odd phrase about “Graymalkin” and “withy roods,” and I’ve been thinking a bit about that: who is thinking it, where does it come from, does Sut think Mother She has placed it in his head and thereby freaking him out even more than he seems to be already, is Sut starting to slip into a more hallucinatory, suggestive state even before he heads for the woods in the next section of the book. The weird phrase anticipates the language used to describe Sut’s many visions in the woods. Curious he has such a weird experience in broad daylight on the streets as the witch passes. Super creepy he can get that spooked. Hmm.


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    29 Jul 2012 at 11:40 am #1755

    wesmorgan
    Member

    The Knoxville News Sentinel has an interesting story today by Matt Larkin on Clarence Raby. The shooting of Raby was mentioned in passing in Suttree as part of “A season of death and epidemic violence” (p. 416) in Knoxville.


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    30 Jul 2012 at 9:35 am #1759

    wesmorgan
    Member

    Last week I made my first visit to Suttree Landing Park in Knoxville, and I was, I admit, a bit disappointed. It is located on the south side of the Tennessee River along Langford Avenue in a spot probably not far from where the fictional Suttree launched the police department’s “Car Seven” (Suttree, p. 442). The “park” seems to consist of about a quarter of an acre of largely gravel covered ground surrounded by a secondhand chain-link fence with several gates that can be locked. It does have what appears to be an otherwise quite serviceable boat-launch ramp currently blocked by a couple of large stones. There is the obligatory sign posted prominently on the fence that says in part: “Suttree Landing Park, Temporary River Access, Hours: Open dawn to dusk unless otherwise posted. For the protection of our park and the safety of its users, the following are prohibited: Alcoholic beverages, Firearms, Open fires, Motorized vehicles in park.” It is not exactly the kind of spot that I would pick to spread a blanket and have a picnic lunch, but perhaps it will be improved in the future. At least it’s a start.


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    11 Aug 2012 at 7:17 pm #1789

    Glass
    Member

    A couple of possible allusions to Montaigne that occurred to me after following a thread to his essay On Repenting:

    “let me justify here what I often say: that I rarely repent.” (Montaigne)

    Of what would you repent?
    Nothing. (Suttree 414)
    ………………………..
    “The world is but a perennial movement.” (Montaigne)

    “Nothing ever stops moving.” Suttree 461)


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    19 Aug 2012 at 5:20 pm #1806

    Anonymous

    Must weigh in here after reading forums for 5 years or so. My take is that Mccarthy romanticized the parts of his hometown that he found most memorable. As a former struggling student in Knoxville myself, this story felt very personal to me. Knoxville is full of young people who show up to get an education and many times they are there only because they are told to be there. Some of them follow the program they are given and some question the whole process. When I showed up I quickly found that drinking and carousing were much more educational than sitting in a class. But after going down that path and experiencing the harsh realities of it for 6 years, I found what I needed to do to make a living in the world and that required me to finally sit in the classes and listen to the professors. The great thing about Knoxville is that it has a wealth of harsh realities all within walking distance of the college campus. My take on Mccarthys Suttree was that he got strength from those experiences. I know I did.


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    05 Oct 2012 at 8:42 pm #2147

    Richard L.
    Member

    Congratulations to all connected with YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE WHAT WATCHES!

    Dr. Wes Morgan’s historical detective work is to be commended, the results fascinating and sometimes darkly humorous of their own accord.

    A while back, I reread part of the 1962 autobiography of naturalist Joseph Wood Krutch, who grew up in Knoxville.  He tells, among other things, of being the first passenger of a Curtis biplane which flew over the city, the pilot looking for a good field long enough to carry a passenger.  He found it on the island in the river, but Krutch says he had to be ferried across to it.  He descriptions are colorful and well worth reading.

    He says, “Probably few still living inhabitants of Knoxville now remember the odd terminology which was once taken for granted, but in the hills not far away so many Seventeenth Century words still linger that a local physician repeated to me only a few years ago the reply given by a patient who was asked the origin of a badly swollen ankle:

    “Well, Doc, I just hunkered down, it creeled, and then it poned up ’til I thought hit was agoin’ to beal.”

    All but one of the strange words is, I believe, to be found in large dictionaries.  Translation: “I squatted on my heel, it twisted, and swelled up so much I thought it might ulcerate.”

    –Joseph Wood Krutch, MORE LIVES THAN ONE,William Sloane Associates, New York, 1962, p. 7

     

     

     

     

     

     


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    07 Oct 2012 at 2:44 pm #2165

    Since we’re talking of east Tennessee isms like beal, here’s a true story from Mr. Reynolds, a neighbor of my first wife’s grandmother Thomas (in north Knoxville) that I recorded in my personal journal Dec. 26, 1970. His use of beal and its forms occurs in the 4th paragraph below.

    “We was a-pushin’ the Germans back at Belleau Wood and they shot me clean through with a dum-dum bullet. I laid there on the battlefield from 4:30 in the afternoon till 8 the next mornin’ my leg so limber it coulda coiled ’round my neck and choked mysef. But I didn’t let it. I got the bleedin’ to stop and kept mysef a-goin’ with a canteen of cognac that had stopped the bullet but didn’t spill all the stuff. Yessir, I later found that durn bullet tinklin’ ‘round in that canteen.

    “Well, they finally got me back to the hospital. My outfit had went on ahead of me pushin’ the Germans back, far back. They put me in the dead man’s ward and pulled them white curtains all around me. Next day the nurse comes by and whispered to some orderly not far from my bed, ’Aint that feller dead yet?’ Well, that made me kinda mad and I stuck my head through them curtains and said, ’No, I sure ain’t  and I ain’t gonna be neither.’ That musta embarrassed ’em cause it wasn’t too long before they come and took away them curtains.

    “Bob, this leg’s troubled me ever since then. Why forty year ago they wanted to cut it off, but I told ’em I’d rather die with it. Had four doctors tell me I wouldn’t live another year with it. Well, that’s forty year ago since they told me that and I’m still here. I don’t know whether the doctors are here or not. I reckon most of ’em ain’t.

    “For about eleven years now this leg’s been a-bealin,’ drainin’ ever day or so. It beals mighty lot in the summer time when I have to put a big bandage on it. Ain’t so bad in the winter but beals right smart then too. Before it got to drainin’ the poison would sometimes run through my system and make me awful low-down. Got so poisoned one time twenty year or so ago that I reached up and plucked some teeth out easy as you’d snap dry twigs. One doctor told me all that poison runnin’ around in me kept other sickness plumb out, and I don’t doubt it one iota. Feel a whole lot better, though, since my leg got to beelin’ cause now the pus pops outa my leg steada goin’ haywire through my body. It smells like the dickens too, so I gotta change that bandage ever day else nobody can stand me for long. If I ever get the devil boilin’ up in me and somebody I don’t like comes a-nosin’ around me, I could leave that bandage off and that person’d run off for good. (laughs) That wouldn’t be fair, would it?”

    Thus we have Mr. Reynolds (never knew his first name). Of the wound he said, “It’s as big as a pig trough.” He invited me to feel the long, terrible ridge in his thigh in a leg that’s two inches shorter than the other one. Grandmaw Thomas summed up Reynolds this way: “He don’t give up.”

    Bob G.


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    15 Nov 2012 at 6:26 pm #2388

    Glass
    Member

    Watching the latest Nature television show on ducks, namely the segment on molting, made me think McCarthy might be alluding to this process at the end of the novel when Suttree, much like a bird preening and fussing over its feathers, is shown picking the beggarlice from his pants, combing his hair and dusting off his shoes on his way out of town. A new shed self, as it were. Now, I didn’t know that some ducks are literally “sitting ducks” during the molting process because they lose all of their feathers pretty much all at once and that they hide out for a couple of weeks until the new feathers come in: “During this period, they cannot fly, and males, in particular, often complete the process on secluded lakes in order to minimize their vulnerability to predators.” (Stanford.edu)

    It is only then that these freshly feathered birds can “Fly them.”


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    18 Nov 2012 at 10:47 pm #2432

    Glass
    Member

    The first couple of grafs of this essay entitled Necropolis from Lapham’s Quarterly remind me of the Necropolis imagery from the Prologue and definitely puts me in mind of the oft-quoted recanting episode with its “…a stone in the very void where all would read my name” on p. 414. The inscription on the Roman tomb quoted in the Lapham’s piece is really something.
    http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/essays/necropolis.php?page=1


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    21 Dec 2012 at 11:24 am #2709

    wesmorgan
    Member

    Sut’s in high cotton.  The Knoxville News Sentinel reported today that City Council approved $667,300 for the design and construction management of the Suttree Landing Park mentioned earlier in this thread.  The Park will be a $5 million project slated to begin by the summer of 2014.  Now that’s more like it!

    Link to Gerald Witt’s article: [HERE].


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    01 Jan 2013 at 8:40 pm #2761

    Anonymous

    Can anyone help me with how the young girl Suttree was sleeping with died?


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    02 Jan 2013 at 8:02 am #2762

    Toejac
    Member

    Seems the hand in the sky decided to drop a cliff ledge on her while she was sleeping one night.


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    05 Jan 2013 at 5:32 am #2773

    Richard L.
    Member

    Re: Can anyone help me with how the young girl Suttree was sleeping with died?

    There are so many things in SUTTREE that are shadows of historical happenings (or that otherwise can be attributed to the recharacterization of events in Cormac McCarthy’s life), and perhaps this too.  The new volume on SUTTREE has some revelations, such as the autobiographical origin in McCarthy’s story, “A Drowning Incident,”  that is revealed by Cormac McCarthy’s younger brother.  We didn’t see that coming.  Perhaps there is much more to be found.

    If you haven’t already, you should see YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE WHAT WATCHES: SUTTREE AND CORMAC MCCARTHY’S KNOXVILLE.  Linda Woodson gives an interpretation of Wanda’s death in her essay (page 188).


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    04 Apr 2013 at 7:37 pm #3265

    Richard L.
    Member

    RIP Roger Ebert, whose review of SUTTREE can be seen at this link:

    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070526/COMMENTARY/70527001


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    07 Nov 2013 at 8:35 am #4548

    wesmorgan
    Member

    It looks like the plans for Suttree Landing Park are moving forward. I attended a public meeting on the plans last evening where some of the details were presented. Jack Neely has a very good summary of these plans in Metro Pulse. They look great to me. Maybe by sometime next summer we will actually have a Park that we can enjoy.


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