Wednesday, March 5, 2014

THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers...Amazing. Beautiful. Necessary.


Mariner Books
$13.95 trade paper, available now

Rating: 4.99* of five

The Publisher Says: With the publication of her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers, all of twenty-three, became a literary sensation. With its profound sense of moral isolation and its compassionate glimpses into its characters' inner lives, the novel is considered McCullers' finest work, and an enduring masterpiece.

At its center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s. Each one yearns for escape from small-town life. When Singer's mute companion goes insane, Singer moves into the Kelly house, where Mick Kelly, the book's heroine (loosely based on McCullers), finds solace in her music. Brilliantly attuned to the spiritual isolation that underlies the human condition, and with a deft sense for racial tensions in the South, McCullers spins a haunting, unforgettable story that gives voice to the rejected, the forgotten, and the mistreated--and, through Mick Kelly, to the quiet, intensely personal search for beauty.

My Review: Oh, how I loved reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Oh how very beautiful the writing in this book is! How much intense and careful observation went into the creation of these characters, each of whom...especially the Kelly family...I felt I could look up in the phone book and call for a chat.

The author was a whopping *twenty-two* when this book was published. TWENTY-TWO!! A person should barely be able to find a rathole and figure out how to pound sand down it at that age! And here McCullers is, creating archetypal characters that define a certain cultural space.

I feel like such a schmuck. Until I contemplate the extremely high cost of her genius...alcoholism, suicide attempts, relationships that ker-flooey-ed in spectacular ways...I am envious of her gift. But I am deeply grateful that she left as much work behind as she did in a short fifty years.

Well, that's all, really. It's amazing and it's beautiful and it's necessary, the way all fine, fine art is.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


  1. I know. It's been too long since I read this one---probably wasn't much more than 22 myself. Thanks for making me think of it again.

    1. It's really worth revisiting as an older person, because some of the pyrotechnics are in a different perspective. Fun to compare impressions, isn't it?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.