A first novel, a singular novel, which uses several elliptical techniques to silhouette its hooded story of some covert activities in a small village in the hills of Tennessee. There, with the "long purple welts of the Great Smokies" in the distance, the more immediate vista is narrowed to the pine woods and limestone quarries, the local bar and the general store, and since the time is the '30's, the men and the boys make a scratchy living, hunting and fishing, brewing and running whiskey. The montage starts with the orchard keeper of the title, an ornery old man who has a spray- pit in the ground which serves as a crypt. It will also conceal the unburied remains of a man killed in self-defense, by another, and the dead man's identity will remain undisclosed in the ashes of myth, legend and dust." Mr. McCarthy's novel, While desolate, is effective in many ways; there is some unusual writing furrowed by a stark, visual imagery while the story itself has a shadowed fascination.