Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter
Carson McCullers

This is one of those reviews in which I let Doug down. If memory serves he loves this book.

Frankly, I didn't particularly like The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. From what I've read elsewhere, it's a classic of American literature, but it didn't work for me.

I found it to be a disorganized presentation of several barely related stories, all of which were bleak, dull, or both.

I felt a small attachment to only one character - Mick - over the loss of her music at the end. Truth be told, though, none of the characters discussed seemed particularly real to me, and their struggles weren't all that important.

None of McCullers's characters grows much in any way during these pages. They just soldier on, suffering through their lives - we follow 6 or 8 of them for a year - and learn essentially nothing.

On a technical level I have to appreciate what McCullers did, though. As a rule I dislike excessive use of writing in the vernacular of the characters. When an accent or speech pattern gets to the point of inhibiting comprehension, I get frustrated. In this case the author walked a fine line. The southern speech was understandable, but because she wrote it in the vernacular it could never be called great English prose. Despite that her writing was pretty good. I give her credit for striking that balance.

I just wish the story had something in it for me. I didn't learn anything new about the human condition or about these people. I can't even tell you how the title is related to the contents.

In a week or two I'll have forgotten it all, and I won't be sorry.

Don't let my dislike stop you from reading this, though. There are a lot of things in the world that others love but which just aren't for me. This may be another in that category. A lot of reviews - and Doug's opinions - strongly support that theory.