Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

Yes!! Finally getting around to catching up on all the blog posts that I've been procrastinating :) One of my regular customers, Mike, recommended The Heart is a Lonely Hunter to me, and it took a few months but I was finally able to read this novel at the end of August. While I take every book recommendation to heart (if somebody recommends a book to me, they truly liked it and believe that I would), at first glance I wasn't really sure I would be a fan of McCullers' first novel. I was pleasantly surprised, however, and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter received 4 out of 5 stars.

From the publisher:
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, an enduring masterpiece first published by Houghton Mifflin in 1940. 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 (and loosely based on McCullers), finds solace in her music. Wonderfully 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, gives voice to the quiet, intensely personal search for beauty.

My thoughts:
I'm not sure what it is, but I feel like most books I've been reading involve multiple perspectives and storylines. Not that I'm complaining; the characters that McCullers created in this book are immensely likable and relatable. No matter what size town you live in, and how close you are to your family, everybody has that one person whom they would feel lost and lonely should they lose them. While Mick is considered the story's main heroine, I felt drawn especially to Singer. The other characters are inexplicably drawn to him, and tell him their problems and secrets with ease, while Singer keeps his own thoughts and anxieties to himself, which is so sad to me.

Few books can induce such emotional reactions in the reader as The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is able to do. I found myself reading late into the night, then trying to sleep while empathizing with the characters in the book. I felt isolated and alienated at points, even though I would be in the living room with my family, or preparing to come back to a semester of school, work, and an internship. McCullers captures the essence of a small town caught in the Great Depression, and I am definitely glad I was not in that time period :P

I was very surprised by how much I liked The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and definitely recommend taking a look into this poignant, moving work of literature.

- Justin :)

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