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The Ballad of the Sad Cafe: and Other Stories Paperback – April 5, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
I was hooked by the beginning, evoking dilapidation, isolation, heat, distress and latent fear/weirdness. Much has been written on McCullough's "lover and beloved" theme, well explored here. The characters are an unforgettable collection of weirdos, still, somehow, typically American; the descriptions are poetic. In general the writing rings true, is economic yet lyrical - nothing is wasted.
Great as "The Great Gatsby", in its way. Much better than "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". It lives up to its title, truly a "ballad" - a songlike story. And the ballad of the mixed-race chain gang that ends it ties the story to the South.
I was sorry to finish it! Utterly compelling.
She writes: "It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being beloved is intolerable to many. The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare the beloved."
The lover is the Enthusiastic Taker, while the beloved is expected to be the Reluctant Giver. The three characters in the story are doubly tragic, because they inhabit, at one time or another, both roles. Miss Amelia is the most sympathetic "point" of the triangle. Because her harsh treatment of Marvin Macy is in the past, she is unable to undo it. Her role as beloved came about without the lesson she learns as the lover of Cousin Lymon.Read more ›
The novella is set in a small Georgia town and McCullers sets the tone of the place right away, with her first words: "The town itself is dreary;..." We are introduced to Miss Amelia, a hard-nosed and solitary woman who owns a general store. Miss Amelia was married once, long ago, to a man named Marvin Macy. Marvin was town's trouble-maker, but his love for Miss Amelia transformed him. He turned into a kind and gentle soul with her. But the marriage only lasted ten days, after which she ran him off. He then reverted to his old ways, running around the state robbing and stealing, until he ends up in the penitentiary.
In the present day, a hunchback named Lyman walks into town and tells Miss Amelia that he's her cousin. To the surprise of the town's residents, she takes in Cousin Lyman. Soon, the town begins to see changes in her. Like her ex-husband under the influence of love, she too becomes a kinder and gentler person. She turns her store into a café where the townspeople can meet. A sense of pride develops in the small town. But then one day a bitter Marvin Macy returns to town for his revenge.
This meditation on love is wonderful, McCullers's writing clear and poetic. I love how she often pauses to muse on a theme to better ground her story in them. She writes openly and beautifully of love, ("Often the beloved is only stimulus for all the stored-up love which has lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto....The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I began reading Carson McCullers with her incredible novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I later moved on to her short stories, which had incredible depth, sadness, and soul... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Katrina
I was pretty impressed with the reviews for this book and decided it was worth a read, but was sadly disappointed. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Natalie F
Well written. Very much enjoyed the featured story despite the meandering conclusion.Published 5 months ago by jasonslate
How it had been whritten more better than about it had been written. Its Great beatiful style and language. Alliens must study english by reading books by Carson McCullers.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer Andrew
I have not yet had a chance to read the whole book, but I feel compelled to leave this review so that others who are over 45 years of age may know that the print on this book is... Read morePublished 5 months ago by suzgrrl
One of the best of maybe a half dozen all time favorite novelettes, an excellent example of the best in southern writers and story telling. Read morePublished 6 months ago by S. Smith
This book/writer is dull. Her stories in this book are pointless. They often make no sense or point whatsoever. Its like, why did i read this? it was a waste of time. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Andreya
The ballad of the Sad Café was a great reading experience. It was recommended to me by a friend who was giving me some personal advice, and she referenced a portion of the... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Garrett Zecker
McCullers writes about the existential problem of evil and goodness that lie at he heart of every man. What's faith? How does trust operate? Read morePublished 10 months ago by Crispin Dannug Jr.