Suttree in Knoxville

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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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