book review: the heart is a lonely hunter

I read Carson McCullers’ classic, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter because of a random woman in a used bookshop, who I thank. It’s about a town in the American South in the late 1930s, but it’s not about the town. There’s a deaf-mute man named Singer who is the centre of the pinwheel that is the collection of main characters. The story is told simply and without sentimentality. It deals with race and poverty and organization of the working class.

It felt like the kind of book you’d talk about when trying to find an example of The Great American Novel, which isn’t so surprising. I mean, it’s not like this is some secret book. My library copy was the Modern Library Classics edition or whatever that series is called. And it’s on lists of the 100 greatest books of all time. And now as I looked up the link on LibraryThing I see it was an Oprah’s Book Club book. So yes, not actually a secret. Just new to me.

One of the best things about it was the lack of an obvious entry way for a facile interpretation. I mean, there’s no part of it that makes you go “Okay the deaf-mute is Christ and the others are like his apostles” or whatever. There’s no shortcut to what the book is about except the book itself. And it does this with simple language and is important. Man. Good fucking book.

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