Friday, December 16, 2016

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Title: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Author: Carson McCullers
Publication Date: 1940
Pages: 368
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction 
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 12/7/16

Summary: McCullers follows deaf-mute Singer as he gains and loses friendships in a small Georgia town. Though Singer is at the heart of the story, the cast of characters is rich and diverse.

What I Thought: I really did not know what to expect going into this book. I was excited because this is one of few on the Modern Library list written by a woman (a fact about which you'll hear my extensive feelings next year when I finis the challenge). The small collection on the list written by women have brought an unsurprisingly fresh perspective. They simply have a different tone and perspective, as you can see in modern literature as well. This is why diverse authors and voices matter in literature.

Ok, so I'm getting off the point here. Let's stick with this book for the moment. 

There is so much depth here. This is a book I feel I will need to read several times to fully extract its goodness. On the surface, I did not find it to be a particular stand out. However, if you are reading on more than a cursory level, there is a depth and richness here that cannot be ignored. As with some other 100 Best books this year, I do not feel my reading of this did it justice. I want to come back and languish in the words, the characters, the story-telling. 

I really appreciated McCullers' diverse cast of characters. While she is writing in the same small, southern, American town setting than many other authors have explored, she showcases a broad cross-section of population, starting and ending with two deaf-mute characters. Having recently read some thoughts on the need for more disability diversity in books, I was pleased to see this in McCullers' writing. It's something I need to do a better job seeking out as a reader and it added a really interesting angle to the narrative.

The book is not very cheerful. As with many books in this setting, poverty has predetermined the lives of many of these characters. Their daily lives are dictated by their circumstances, as are all of ours. There are some quite sad moments in the book and I think, as I read it again and become more connected to the characters, I will find some of them quite devastating. For the moment, the one that most affected me was the brush-off Mick received from Harry after he took her virginity and left town. While McCullers paints his intentions as good in a way, his actions are so cold in practicality.

McCullers' prose is easy to read, but worth lingering over. I have seen comparisons between this work and To Kill a Mockingbird. While you all know how much I adore Harper Lee's work and don't want to get carried away, I can see some loose parallels. Both authors have the magic ability to give you more each time you return to their words. It's why I'll be coming back to this book again in the future.

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Definitely

A Reduced Review: An enjoyable enough story on the surface, but I think I'll get much more out of this one when I revisit it and take time to languish in its rich prose and complex characters. 

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