The Orchard Keeper

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Overview

An American classic, The Orchard Keeper is the first novel by one of America's finest, most celebrated novelists. Set is a small, remote community in rural Tennessee in the years between the two world wars, it tells of John Wesley Rattner, a young boy, and Marion Sylder, an outlaw and bootlegger who, unbeknownst to either of them, has killed the boy's father. Together with Rattner's Uncle Ather, who belongs to a former age in his communion with nature and his stoic independence, they enact a drama that seems born...
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The Orchard Keeper

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Overview

An American classic, The Orchard Keeper is the first novel by one of America's finest, most celebrated novelists. Set is a small, remote community in rural Tennessee in the years between the two world wars, it tells of John Wesley Rattner, a young boy, and Marion Sylder, an outlaw and bootlegger who, unbeknownst to either of them, has killed the boy's father. Together with Rattner's Uncle Ather, who belongs to a former age in his communion with nature and his stoic independence, they enact a drama that seems born of the land itself. All three are heroes of an intense and compelling celebration of values lost to time and industrialization.

An American classic, The Orchard Keeper is the first novel by one of America's finest novelists and author of the critically acclaimed national bestseller All the Pretty Horses. Set in a small, remote community in rural Tennessee, it tells the story of a young boy and the outlaw bootlegger who, unbeknownst to either of them, has killed the boy's father.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This first novel by McCarthy (whose All the Pretty Horses won the National Book Award) is set in a remote Tennessee community between the world wars. (Feb.)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island in1933 and spent most of his childhood near Knoxville, Tennessee. He served in the U.S. Air Force and later studied at the University of Tennessee. In 1976 he moved to El Paso, Texas, where he lives today.  McCarthy's fiction parallels his movement from the Southeast to the West—the first four novels being set in Tennessee, the last three in the Southwest and Mexico. The Orchard Keeper (1965) won the Faulkner Award for a first novel; it was followed by Outer Dark (1968),  Child of God (1973), Suttree (1979), Blood Meridian (1985), All the Pretty Horses, which won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award for fiction in 1992, and The Crossing.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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(5)

4 Star

(9)

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(1)

2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 12, 2009

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    Hit or Miss

    I read this, McCarthy's first novel, after No Country For Old Men, The Road, Blood Meridian, Child of God, and Outer Dark, and I think it suffers by comparison. <BR/><BR/>The writing isn't as honed as his other novels. Though there is one passage in the end that made me love the book. It's a real glimpse at the true beauty of McCarthy's mind. <BR/><BR/>The Orchard Keeper is not a bad book by any standard, it's just not his best, as it is his first. <BR/><BR/>The novel and its three main characters move sluggishly through their world and their lives. At some points it will grab you with a sentence or a passage. But there are also long draughts of well written nothing. Landscape descriptions, while well worded, get old. I know he is describing what no longer exists, and maybe when I read it at a different time in my life I'll be able to appreciate it more, but as of now it is just too all over the place at times to really stick in my mind.<BR/><BR/>There is humor and the omnipresent sense of foreboding that permeates in every McCarthy story. If you are a McCarthy fan such as myself, then definitely check this one out for you own perspective.<BR/><BR/>I think I liked it more than No Country For Old Men, but only for the writing. The Orchard Keeper has no identifiable pace or plot, and it is very easy to get lost at times. I don't have a problem with the no plot thing, or even the no pace thing. They work fine if done well. And while The Orchard Keeper is a precursor to McCarthy's true talent, it is also his flaws clawing at you the entire way through.<BR/><BR/>All said, it's still better than ninety percent of the books published today.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2003

    A Lost Time

    The life that is no longer in the Tennessee hills, with its bootleggers, it's hound-dog hunting, its freedoms and its wildness, runs its last miles through the experiences of an old man of the mountain, a bootlegger, and a young boy. Their stories interlace and tell how it was, good and bad, the old man a mythic figure for what we all have lost.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This didn't suit my style of reading.

    I don't know what Mr. McCarthy was trying to communicate. The characters were introduced in a mish-mash fashion and I never knew who he was talking about. In a whole chapter about a cat, he injects a murder in the last paragraph.

    He is highly verbose and descriptive but has a good command of his vocabulary.

    This author was highly recommended to me and I might give him one more chance but it won't be until I read something else that tells me a story that I can understand and enjoy. I found the author persnickety and, frankly, he managed to bore me to death.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    Normally I love to read Cormac McCarthy's books, however.....

    I am sure that if I had read this book before I read McCarthy's other wonderful books, I probably never would have read the other books by this author. This was a dreadful pointless book that I could find no meaning too. Of the 200 or more books that I have read in the past 3-4 years this was the worst.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2000

    Man and the land

    Cormac McCarthy addresses the dying out of a pre-industrialized society in this book. One boy finds himself between the two ways of living and his relationship to both ways is told in this book. It reminded me much of Faulkner in style. Excelent read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 8, 2010

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