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Book: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

May 31, 2011
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This was my most recent audiobook. So good.

But also: So sad. And lonely.

I have to admit, I didn’t actually finish this book. I listened to all but the last chapter or two, and then skipped to the end just to see how a few things turned out, but it got to a point where I couldn’t take the loneliness and sadness of the main characters anymore. I think mostly because things were feeling so sad about Katie and Cleo’s passings; if it had been any other time I would have listened to all of it because it was so beautiful and good.

Set in the 1940s, there are a set of main characters, all extremely lonely in their own way.

John Singer: a deaf-mute who loses his only friend (the only person he can communicate with through sign language), and somehow becomes a silent oracle for the others. He is the hub of the wheel of characters.

Mick Kelly: a young tough girl growing up in grinding poverty, her heart set alight by music.

Dr. Copeland: the town’s black doctor, suffering from TB and his own rage and helplessness. In spite of this, he is generous and works himself to death for ‘his people.’

Jake Blount: a mysterious man who drifts into town in an alcoholic haze, he nevertheless has a revealing depth to him and longs to make life fair for the hard workers of the world.

Biff Brannon: the cafe owner who stays up late nights observing the town’s inhabitants. A quiet, thoughtful man, Biff is quirky and interesting, the most detached of all the main characters.

The writing in this book is so clear and poignant. I had no idea that Carson McCullers was only 23 when she wrote this — it’s an amazing work for anyone, nevermind someone so young.

I cried many times while listening to this, from the sheer clarity of that “I’m alone in the world” feeling which is portrayed so touchingly. Never sentimental, the book tells each person’s story in a straightforward way which cuts through any moralizing or over-analyzing. Quietly heartbreaking but also hopeful in many small ways.

I loved this book and wish I hadn’t been so sad personally when listening to it, but it was worth it. Highly recommended.

(sorry this review is somewhat stunted; I finished listening to it awhile ago but haven’t been up to writing reviews so I’m a little at a loss for what to say at this point. But. It was good. You should read it.)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2011 9:48 am

    oh this sounds beautiful and wonderful. oddly enough, im in the mood for ‘sad’ lately.

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