Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Big Read DC: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, runs from April 23 - May 23, 2009. The book for DC this year is The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers.

The Author:
Carson McCullers was only 19 years old when she began writing The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, which she had published in 1940 at the age of 23.

The Setting:
A small Georgia mill town in the late 1930s

The Characters:
Biff Brannon, the lonely owner of the local cafe
Mick Kelly, a young teenage tomboy with big dreams and a passion for music
Benedict Copeland, the well-spoken negro doctor who tries to lift up his race
Jake Blount, an argumentative alcoholic hoping for social revolution
John Singer, the deaf-mute man in whom the other four characters confide

Heather's Review:
The first sentence of the book is: "In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together." I admit this struck me as a rather strange beginning. What small town has more than one mute in it? Yet I kept reading, and soon the five main characters each unfolded their story. All of them are outcasts burdened by worry for themselves and for each other: for the African American race, for the human race, for the working class, the lonely, the disabled, and for those too poor to live out their dreams. This is not chic lit. This is not what you want to read on a seaside vacation, unless you are going there to brood. But, like any Great American Novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is worth your time and effort. Read slowly, because there is so much in the book, you will need to take breaks to digest it all. The prose is straight-forward and the themes relentless.
Other Works by McCullers:
Reflections in a Golden Eye
The Ballad of the Sad Cafe
The Member of the Wedding
Clock Without Hands.
Big Read Programs at DCPL:
Stop by any branch to pick up a program guide for book discussions, exhibits, films, and more. Check back with Takoma Park soon regarding a book discussion in May.

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