Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Reread: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (by Carson McCullers)

I read this book over a decade ago and hated it. I thought the Jesus metaphor was ham-handed and I hated everyone in the book. But in the years since, I'd basically forgotten almost everything about it, and kept being reminded how much people loved and admired it. I figured it was at least worth a revisit. And so it was that it became the latest selection of my virtual book group, the League of Unreliable Narrators.

I'm happy to report I appreciated it much more the second time around! The Jesus metaphor stuff was fun to rediscover -- I realized it is not ham-handed, because of the way McCullers twists it. It's more of a critique of how humans project their own needs onto God and religion. (My reading this time: Singer is still Jesus, Antonapoulos is God, and faith is illusory but possibly valuable anyway.) Probably the best part is what McCullers dows with the resurrection/redemption coda -- in that there is no clear redemption or resurrection at all, for any of the characters. Neither is it hopeless. It just... is.

I cared far more about Mick and Dr. Copeland (and Portia) than any of the other characters. I really didn't care about Blount at all, for example. (And I kind of wish there had been three "disciples" instead of four -- I needed a Trinity to really hammer home my interpretation. You are the worst, Blount.) (Yes, that was a Hamilton reference. I can't help it.) 

An interesting side note about McCullers: she was a raging alcoholic who drank from morning until night. Puts a little spin on the fact that all her characters seem to find solace in alcohol, doesn't it?

(As for the book group discussion, which was delightful as always -- Chris made a great comparison to The Old Man and the Sea, which I also hated. Now there is a ham-handed Jesus metaphor.)

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