If we turn to our hymnals, (Suttree, p. 414):
"Of what would you repent? ... One thing. I spoke with bitterness about my life and I said that I would take my own part against the slander of oblivion and against the monstrous facelessness of it and that I would stand a stone in the very void where all would read my name. Of that vanity I recant all."
Forget the comparisons to Faulkner, Melville, and any other fashionable names, or themes that somehow make Suttree sound like he's on a Harry Potter journey. ("Suttree and the Magical Midnight Mellonhumper"?) Or existential searches for meaning. (Can one have an existential search for meaning? But I digress.) Cormac McCarthy has his own unique voice, and it is, well, feculently good in this novel about the self-delusions of one man, Cornelius Suttree, as he attempts to rectify life, having been brought into the world at the same time as his stillborn twin brother. It is a novel to be experienced. The dialogue is stunningly true and a joy to read, and in unique McCarthy fashion, he finds a way to make sublime psychological observations about his characters without resorting to reading their thoughts. Here is a novel that recounts those "living on the edge" without the sentimental romantic claptrap of the Beat writers or Rousseau-rustic rubes. Sure, some of the writing is overwrought -- he spent 20 years writing the thing -- but it's still purty, and it's still McCarthy. To put a label on it, I'd call it a classic in the Southern American anti-intellectual tradition. What that means is this: long after people have tired of reading David Foster Wallace make fun of midwesterners who shop at K mart, or Philip Roth rhapsodizing about his penis, people will be reading the likes of Faulkner, O'Conner and McCarthy for a deeper understanding of our culture, our longings and our mythos. (Sorry. Couldn't help myself. Apologies to Melville.)