No Happy Nonsense

The Orchard Keeper / Cormac McCarthy


February 28th, 2023 | Quick Thoughts

I had trouble reading this one, tbh. It's a small, quiet story set after the first world war (i think?) in this little small ass town in the south. Marion Sylder is a bootlegger (transit) who kills a dude who he gave a ride to one night, for presumably being annoying af. Sylder dumps the body into a concrete pit thing the municipality owned on an abandoned stretch of municipal road. Sylder eventually gets caught and is sentenced to time in Brushy mountain penetentiary.

Arthur Ownby is an old dude living in a shitty old house that sits on that muncipal road. He ended up finding the body in the pit but didn't report it or nothin, for reasons unknown. Later, when the police are looking for Sylder, they decide to question Ownby if he had seen him using the road. Ownby takes the rational course of action and holes up in his house and shoots at the cops, injuring at least one. Then he flees, and is eventually caught and sent to an asylum.

John Kittner (i think?) is a young boy/teenager who likes to just do shit kids do in the woods; hang with his friends, try to trap animals to sell their fur, wander around. He comes across Sylder in a wreck in the woods and saves him. He spends time with Sylder, who gives him a puppy and sort of acts as a de facto father for the boy, since his father was recently murdered. Oh yeah, turns out Sylder killed his father. Whoops. The boy gets on the wrong side of the law but Sylder ultimately tells him to fuck off with that shit.

The imagery is really well detailed out, and there's lots of interesting sort of events and scenarios that play out, but for whatever reason the book didn't really appeal to me much. It's a western (duh, McCarthy book) so maybe I can appreciate it more on a re-read, to really stew in the settings and landscapes, let the slow burn really smolder. I don't know.


Filed Under: Reviews