In 2021, photographer Gabe McCurdy (previously featured here) traveled to east Tennessee in search of the setting of Cormac McCarthy’s first novel, The Orchard Keeper. Written in 1965, the book is set against a backdrop of rural Tennessee in the fictional community of Red Branch, where “the floor of the forest has about it a primordial quality, some steamy carboniferous swamp where ancient saurians lurk in feigned sleep.” Intrigued by the characters described in the story, McCurdy set off in search of a new project. “For the following year, I wandered along the western foothills of the Smoky Mountains and throughout the small towns that bordered the Cherokee National Forest between Chattanooga and Knoxville, searching for traces of the book’s characters in the people I met,” he explains. “I found many characters. I never found Red Branch.”
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