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Carson McCullers

Does anyone else like her fiction? Some of it is just too over-the-top and flowery for me (like "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe"), but when she really gets it right, she's superb, both in terms of structure and style.

She became a national celebrity after the success of her first book, "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter." She followed it up with the gay novel "Reflections in a Golden Eye," which was incredibly dark and caused a huge sensation because it dealt with a closeted gay Army officer -- prompting Mrs. George S. Patton to cancel her subscription to Harper's Bazaar for serializing it. (btw, I always thought her baroque titles were her idea, but they were actually her publisher's--she originally wanted to entitle the two works "The Mute" and "Army Post.")

McCullers was a very strange woman. She could not write unless she got drunk, which was for that reason most of the time--which was terrible for her because she suffered from horrible effects of rheumatic fever as a child, which gave her multiple strokes, the fourth of which killed her at age fifty. She thought she was straight (and married a handsome man, who later killed himself), but dressed in men's clothes and eventually cut her hair like men did at the time. She apparently never had sex with a woman, so far as anyone knows, but she became romantically obsessed with women and would stalk them (like Katherine Anne Porter) or befriend them then stalk them (like Gypsy Rose Lee).

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by Anonymousreply 11May 15, 2024 1:32 AM

I remember reading Lonely Hunter in college and loving it. But, for whatever reason, I never read anything else by her.

by Anonymousreply 1May 14, 2024 4:03 AM

She was an exhausting person (I wrote an essay on her for a scholarly volume). I think she’s a writer for adolescents and undergraduate students. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter has touching elements, but it is ultimately a mishmash of “lovable losers.” I think “The Member of the Wedding” holds up best. “The Ballad if the Sad cafe” is her trying to do Flannery O’Connor without the brilliant, often nasty irony and religious commitments. Oddly, her last novel, “Clock without Hands,” while a failure as a realized narrative and read by very few, is interesting. I don’t think she’s at the same level as O’Connor, Welty, or Porter.

by Anonymousreply 2May 14, 2024 4:12 AM

Any thoughts on Reflections..., r2?

by Anonymousreply 3May 14, 2024 4:17 AM

She was an enormous celebrity in the 1940s and 1950s. She was always being photographed and appearing in fashion magazines despite her undeniable homeliness.

It's often been speculated that she might have been trans given her fascination with trying to appear masculine. She denied being a lesbian despite her erotic obsessions with women, and tried to work it out with her therapist during the last years of her life.

by Anonymousreply 4May 14, 2024 4:19 AM

"Son, have you ever been collared and dragged out into the street and thrashed by a naked woman? Huh?"

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by Anonymousreply 5May 14, 2024 4:33 AM

Almost all of her novels and novellas have been turned into films--I think "Clock Without Hands" is the only one that hasn't been.

She was a HUGE influence in mid-century American fiction--Truman Capote's "Other Voices, Other Rooms" was hugely influenced by her, as was Sylvia Plath's "The Bell jar" and Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye."

by Anonymousreply 6May 15, 2024 12:50 AM

She used to hang out with Tennessee Williams.

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by Anonymousreply 7May 15, 2024 12:55 AM

^^He helped her transform "The Member of the Wedding" into a play.

by Anonymousreply 8May 15, 2024 12:59 AM

With garden shears!

by Anonymousreply 9May 15, 2024 1:12 AM

Wasn't her husband gay?

by Anonymousreply 10May 15, 2024 1:19 AM

Massive pussyhound. Big Stevenson supporter.

by Anonymousreply 11May 15, 2024 1:32 AM
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