The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter has been on my to-read list for YEARS.

I’ve been intrigued by it. The cover features the author, Carson McCullers, who wrote this in 1940 when she was only 23 years old. I was still dependent on my parents and eating easy-mac when I was 23- I can’t imagine sitting down and writing a classic novel.

(Google the author’s life- such a tragedy. She battled alcohol addiction, tumultuous relationships, and her husband’s suicide before dying at 50 from a brain hemorrhage.)

McCullers’ first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, explores the spiritual isolation of outcasts in a small town of the Southern United States. One of the main characters, John Singer, is a deaf-mute who lives in a boardinghouse. Despite his disability, he attracts close friendships with misfits. The book hits on racism in the deep south, poverty, loneliness, and the struggles that come with the American dream. Parts were difficult to read. For instance, an African-American father struggled to cope after his teenage son is unfairly sent to prison camp and gets both of his feet sawed off for talking back to the white guards.

I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars and here’s why: it was depressing and slow. (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is to literature what August and Everything After is to music.)

McCullers is a gifted author and her books are easy to read (no flowery showoff lauguage like many modern authors) but LORD the book was depressing and the sadness just didn’t seem to end (it was around 350 pages). I kept waiting for something to happen, but there didn’t seem to be a true climax.

The book DID cause me to pause and meditate on the plight of African-Americans in the south and the way they were treated because of the color of their skin. It was courageous for McCullers to have written these things in the 1940s when she risked persecution herself.

Have you read this? What did you think?


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