The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (Landmark Series) Hardcover – Large Print, July 1, 1988
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- Publisher : Isis Large Print Books; Large Print edition (July 1, 1988)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 431 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1557360863
- ISBN-13 : 978-1557360861
- Item Weight : 1.75 pounds
Best Sellers Rank:
#15,986,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #4,226,078 in Literature & Fiction (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The book is fairly complex, and there were moments I felt it was a tad thick and slow. But McCullers is a master of tension, too, and the sequence leading up to -- hmmmm, how do I put this spoilerlessly -- the sequence with the rifle is an absolute textbook example of a writer in complete control of her material and her reader. Can you read "on the edge of your seat"? Why yes, yes you can.
This is a fine classic book, well deserving of its place in the canon. The outlook is dark, but not unremittingly so. The sentences are beautiful, and sometimes astonishingly so. The plot is rich, sometimes funny, not over-determined or schematic. A lovely read.
Top reviews from other countries
Biff Brannon owns the cafe along with his wife, Alice. Lonely in his unsatisfactory marriage and childless, Biff watches the people who frequent the cafe and offers a kind of rough kindness to some of the misfits who happen along. Jake Blount is one such misfit – a drunk with Communist leanings who longs to meet others who share his politics. Mick Kelly is the daughter of the owners of Singer’s boarding house, a young girl whose life is circumscribed by the poverty of her circumstances, but who secretly longs to write music. And lastly of Singer’s little group of disciples is Doctor Benedict Copeland, a black doctor who has devoted his life to leading his people out of ignorance but has failed, even with his own family from whom he is now mostly estranged. Each sees in Singer someone who seems to understand them and gives them the courage to face the obstacles in their lives. But Singer, though he listens, cannot speak and lives for the rare occasions when he can take a break from work and visit his friend Antonapolous, where he frantically pours out all his pent-up thoughts through sign, to a man who seems neither to understand nor care.
For me, the stories of Biff and Jake didn’t work quite so well, though each had some points of interest. But Dr Copeland’s story is very well done, highlighting the poverty and cruel injustice experienced by black people, and the gulf between his ambition and the reality of what he could achieve within a system rigged against him. His character is also an excellent study of a man who is respected and even loved by the people he serves and leads in his wider community, but who fails utterly in his domestic life, taking his disappointments and frustrations out on his wife and children; a man so consumed with the desire to improve humanity that he fails to understand and connect with the individual needs of the humans around him.
Mick is a wonderful character and the one who gives a small glimmer of hope amid the general bleakness. McCullers’ description of her sneaking around to listen to music through the open windows of those wealthy enough to own radios and record players shows the real disparity of opportunity in this society where even the simplest cultural opportunities are available to only a fortunate few. Mick’s efforts to teach herself first to play piano and then to find a way to write down the music she hears inside her are beautifully written. Although the desperate poverty of her family means that her education has to give way to the need to earn money, there is the feeling that maybe she will somehow find a way to lead a more fulfilling life in time.
And Singer himself, for much of the book a silent background against which the stories of the others are played out, gradually becomes more vivid as the true loneliness of his life is shown – a loneliness caused, in his case, by physical rather than emotional barriers. Seemingly stable, holding down a job and surrounded by people who read into the blankness of him whatever they need and lack and then value him for that, he just wants that simple thing they see in him – a willing listener, someone who seems to understand.
While the premise is a stretch, with Singer’s deaf-mutism a rather contrived vehicle to bring this disparate group together, and while some of the stories work better than others, overall this is a profound and moving study of the ultimate aloneness and loneliness of people in a crowd, and of the universal human desire to find connection with another. The writing is beautiful, emotional but never mawkish, with deep understanding of the human heart and sympathy for human fallibility – a book that fully deserves its classic status.
BUT, as with many Amazon e-books, the quality of the printing is unacceptably poor.
Errors are numerous and, less than half way through the book, I've started to log them:
"car" instead of ear
"fed" instead of feel
"die" instead of the
"The" instead of . The
"I" instead of !
And I expect to be faced with more irritating mistakes that have to be unravelled in context.
NOT GOOD ENOUGH AND MUST DO BETTER!