Complete Novels: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter/Reflections in a Golden Eye/The Ballad of the Sad Cafe/The Member of the Wedding/The Clock Without Hands (Library of America)

by Carson McCullers

Hardcover, 2001

Status

Available

Genres

Publication

Library of America (2001), Edition: 1st Ed., 827 pages

Description

"In The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940), one of the most extraordinary debuts in modern American literature, an enigmatic deaf-mute draws out the confessions of an itinerant worker, a young girl, a doctor, and a widowed cafe proprietor. The disfiguring violence of desire is explored with shocking intensity in two shorter works, Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941), a tale of murder and madness at an army base, and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1943), a grotesquely imaginative exploration of love's outer boundaries. The Member of the Wedding (1946), thought by many to be her masterpiece, hauntingly depicts a young girl's fascination with her brother's wedding. In 12-year-old Frankie Addams, confused, easily wounded, yet determined to survive, McCullers created her most indelible protagonist. Clock Without Hands (1960), her final novel, was completed against great odds in the midst of tremendous physical suffering. Set against the background of court-ordered school integration, it contains some of McCullers' most forceful social criticism."--Jacket.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member wildbill
Member of the Wedding
This is a coming of age story about Frankie Adams, a twelve year old girl who lives in a small Southern town with her widowed father. Frankie spends most of her time with Berenice Sadie Brown who is the black cook for the family and her six year old cousin John Henry West. They are usually in the kitchen talking about whatever comes to mind.
Frankie is at that age where she is not sure who she is, she changes her name to F. Jasmine during the story, or where she is going. Early in the story her brother Jarvis decides to marry his fiancee Janice and invites Frankie to the wedding. Frankie decides that she will become part of their family and live with them after the wedding. She only tells a few people and Jarvis and Janice are not included.
The rest of the plot is how her plan for a happily ever after threesome works out. Using this story as a backdrop the author does an excellent job of following the meanderings of a twelve year old girl in a small town. Frankie has some very interesting conversations with Bernice about Bernice's three husbands. Bernice tries to impart some adult wisdom to Frankie but more often than not the child in Frankie rejects it. When dealing with John Henry it is Frankie who tries to appear the adult and is often outdone by John Henry's childish wisdom. All of the dialogue between these three is excellent and it gave me the feeling that I spent some time sitting in that kitchen.
There is an incident where a sailor tries to treat Frankie like an adult and ends up with a big bump on the head.
In the end reality is imposed on Frankie and she learns that she has to accept it. She turns thirteen and moves on a little older and wiser. This is not the type of story I would expect to enjoy but the author's writing skill helped me get to know and like Frankie and her friends. It stirred some of my memories from being young and living in a small town in the South. More than anything the author portrays the gamut of emotions and the silliness and pain of the bumpy road of growing up.
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LibraryThing member laytonwoman3rd
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter:
This is a novel full of lonely people, missed chances, broken dreams and bitter ends. Yet the author keeps us all at arm's length from her characters, who are very well drawn, but who do not draw us into their lives. This detachment is essential, because otherwise the sadness would be awfully hard to take. I believe we are meant to engage our minds, as the characters themselves do so extensively, to assess what's happening in their lives, without getting emotionally involved. This means, of course, as so many readers have pointed out, that it is difficult to "like" or "care about" any of the characters. As each of the main characters is isolated from society, we find ourselves isolated from them. John Singer is deaf, and communicates minimally with those around him. Mick Kelly is an adolescent who closely guards her inner life, and engages only as necessary with the outside world. Biff Brannon is utterly conflicted and confused, unable to connect with his wife, or himself. Jake Blount is lost, unstable, frequently drunk, convinced that Marxism is "the answer", but unable to apply that conviction even to bring about a coherent dialog with another like-minded individual. Even Dr. Copeland, who devotes his life to selflessly providing medical care for his people, fails to love and connect with his own children. Something about this reading experience reminds me of the way I felt when reading Russian novels for the first time in my teenage years--fascinated in a Spock-like, almost clinical way by the lives I did not recognize or sympathize with. Now, my human half wants to chide them out of their existential funk by urging them to look around at the beauty that's out there...to love something regardless of whether you get loved in return...to make life happen instead of waiting for it to happen to you. So, no...I did not have a lot of sympathy for McCullers' characters, although I will admit to a hope that Mick Kelly persists in her dreams, clings to her music, and never lets herself lose access to that "inner room". I was entranced with the wonderful writing, the fugue-like structure of the novel, and the not-quite fulfilled promise of genius.
Review written January 2015
… (more)
LibraryThing member laytonwoman3rd
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter:
This is a novel full of lonely people, missed chances, broken dreams and bitter ends. Yet the author keeps us all at arm's length from her characters, who are very well drawn, but who do not draw us into their lives. This detachment is essential, because otherwise the sadness would be awfully hard to take. I believe we are meant to engage our minds, as the characters themselves do so extensively, to assess what's happening in their lives, without getting emotionally involved. This means, of course, as so many readers have pointed out, that it is difficult to "like" or "care about" any of the characters. As each of the main characters is isolated from society, we find ourselves isolated from them. John Singer is deaf, and communicates minimally with those around him. Mick Kelly is an adolescent who closely guards her inner life, and engages only as necessary with the outside world. Biff Brannon is utterly conflicted and confused, unable to connect with his wife, or himself. Jake Blount is lost, unstable, frequently drunk, convinced that Marxism is "the answer", but unable to apply that conviction even to bring about a coherent dialog with another like-minded individual. Even Dr. Copeland, who devotes his life to selflessly providing medical care for his people, fails to love and connect with his own children. Something about this reading experience reminds me of the way I felt when reading Russian novels for the first time in my teenage years--fascinated in a Spock-like, almost clinical way by the lives I did not recognize or sympathize with. Now, my human half wants to chide them out of their existential funk by urging them to look around at the beauty that's out there...to love something regardless of whether you get loved in return...to make life happen instead of waiting for it to happen to you. So, no...I did not have a lot of sympathy for McCullers' characters, although I will admit to a hope that Mick Kelly persists in her dreams, clings to her music, and never lets herself lose access to that "inner room". I was entranced with the wonderful writing, the fugue-like structure of the novel, and the not-quite fulfilled promise of genius.
Review written January 2015
… (more)
LibraryThing member jddunn
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - A book about dignity. I can't believe she wrote this when she was 23. It has a wise old salt sort of insight into human nature about it. Very sad, but somehow affirming for all that. (Read early 2005)

Language

Original language

English

Local notes

Library of America

Barcode

11944

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