26 March 2015

Review of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

Title:  The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Author:  Carson McCullers
Publication Information:  Published in 1940
How I Got This Book:  I ordered it online.

Goodreads Synopsis: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 Thoughts:  OMG!  I cannot believe it took me so long and so many tries before I finally finished this book!  It was absolutely exquisite.

McCullers had such a gift for creating an atmosphere in her writing.  I could feel the temperature and humidity around me.  I could feel the sorrow and isolation and bewilderment of her characters as they moved through the year this novel depicts.  I wanted to hug each of them in turn as life didn't become what they expected it would.

This novel does such a wonderful job of illustrating how isolated we can be as we move through this world, how difficult it can be to create a true and deep connection with another person, and how we often project our own ideas onto other people as we try to figure them out.

Each of the four main characters moves alone through the hours and pours out their heart and soul to the deaf-mute, figuring that he understands and sympathizes with their plight.  They project their own conceptions of him onto him, which makes for some very interesting miscommunications as the plot unfolds and the characters interact.  Of the four main characters, I loved Mick and Biff, the cafe owner.  I could relate more to Mick, but Biff was beautifully rendered as well.

I got to the point where I could only read this novel sitting outside with a cold drink nearby.  There was something about the heat and the sun that made this story come alive for me.  I am so glad that I have read it now and I cannot wait to read more by McCullers!

1 comment:

  1. I keep thinking that I need to rethink my list of classics for Classics Club (don't tell anyone!) and I think I definitely need to get this one on my list. Both because I think it sounds wonderful and because there are some books on there that I really don't want to read after all!

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