As we noted in this week's issue (and linked on our Facebook) page, the literary website The Millions wrote up an interesting visit to/analysis of Suttree--the book and the new high-gravity beer joint on Gay Street. Nina Martyris writes:
"Often called "Knoxville's Dubliners," Suttree provides an intense, forensic snapshot into Knoxville's streets and soul. It offers the reader no racy plot or salvific climax, just an uncured slice of life. There are parts of this book that will make you laugh and others that will make your stomach coil in anguish."
It's a fascinating entry -- but not quite as mind-blowing as Jim White's account in Radio Silence of his Suttree-drenched visit to Knoxville in 1997 as an opening act for David Byrne. After Byrne gets kicked out of a downtown barbershop (!), the aged owner reveals that he in fact knew "Old Sut." But... that's just a fictional character, right? Not according to White's barber.
"I'm rendered momentarily speechless by the old man's claim.
"Walter notices my silence. He gouges a chunk out of the latest owl then adds, 'Old Sut. Paid me with a catfish one time, he did. Big old thing." Walter gestures widely with his hands to show the length of the fish. "About yea long. Used to run his trot lines down on the river.'"
Ah, a mystery!
A note from one Dennis McCarthy (yes, related) should make things clearer:
"No mystery--purely a fabrication. Either Jim White was writing an entertaining piece of fiction, or Walter the Barber was pulling Jim's leg, or Walter was suffering from dementia (Jim alludes to the possibility) and had conflated an early reading of the novel with his own life. "Ol' Sut" is pure fiction, as is the name. Nice story though."