Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Reading Journal: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers (1940)

One word to describe this novel? Atmosphere. McCullers's debut, written when she was just 23, is a beautiful stumble through a young woman's formative years in the racially-divided American south. The characters live and breathe, particularly those men Mick Kelly is interested in: working-class hothead Jake Blount and the mute, (Mr.) Singer. As far as a plot goes, it's hard to pin much down, but each chapter is another scene that demands your attention with its immediacy and draws you in, almost to the point that you forget the forest for each of these trees. Tennessee Williams called McCullers's the South's best prose writer; for my money, she's no William Faulkner, but I'm a big Grapes of Wrath and Alice Munro fan, and this book slots in nicely alongside those writers, sometimes using sentences as punchy as Hemingway's, too. What can I say that hasn't been said? Don't just take it from Oprah, it's a classic.

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