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Recent Sadness

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What’s the saddest book you’ve read recently?
CarsonJudging by the title alone, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers does not spell an upbeat mood. The loneliness of the characters pervades the entire narrative that makes me sore. Each of the characters struggles in their social position, ambition, civil justice, and racial inequality. The all find solace in the friendship of a deaf man named John Singer. The writing captures a feeling so tense as conspiracy and menacing or as the deadly quiet before a catastrophe—and indeed, compounding the soreness, the novel culminates very sadly. I am surprised I have not discovered this book earlier, consider it has been widely taught in high schools and colleges. Given the weighty subject matter that McCullers delves, I gather it is far more fulfilling, in the sense of appreciating the autistic nature of the book, that I have read it after my flighty years are behind me. I hope the grim outlook of the book would not deter prospective reader, for the writing is beautifully lucid and contemplative. It irradiates a sense of forlornness that life is already all plotted out and so dismal for these people that all they could do is to admit the absurdity and cry.

12 Responses

  1. Somehow I’ve managed to avoid this one, too. I’ve always thought it sounded interesting, but just too depressing to try.

  2. I’ve had this on my list to read for quite some time but I guess I will have to be in the right “place” to read it since every review or commentary I have ever read about it makes it seem very sad.

  3. I bought this book probably about 10 years ago now and still haven’t read it. I know I just need to read it.

  4. I have this book sitting on my shelves right now. I need to read it!

  5. I reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in the past year or so and found it much sadder than I remembered from my first reading, when I was in my early teens.

  6. That is a dark one!

  7. This book was on one of my friend’s top 10 books ever read that I’ve featured over the last few months of Sundays. You definitely have to psych yourself up for something you know will be dire. This one is on my list, to read when I’m feeling like wallowing.

  8. I just purchased this book today. I too have wondered how this one always seems to have slipped by and when I just happened to see it at the used bookstore, I just had to grab it so it would not slip by again. Your description has made me want to start right away.

  9. You are right, it is such a sad book (but one of my favorites). I think the most depressing thing was that even John Singer, whom everyone turned to for friendship and understanding, was horribly lonely in the end.

  10. I have this for so long. Yet to read it. Your description might have put me of. Not that I don’t read grim books!


    (hope smling here not out of place!)

    Booking Through Sad Ones

  11. I have a friend who divides books into two categories: ‘good reads’ and ‘downers’. She and I sometimes exchange books, but she says that I read too many ‘downers.’ She said it most recently after reading “The Kite Runner”. Hearing her use the word downer is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, and I’m having the same problem with “sad”.

    I’ve never read “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”, but I’m not afraid to read it because it might leave me “sad” or because it is described as dark and dire. One of the reasons we are drawn to literature (as readers or writers) is to bring light to the dark places — to enable us to face the loneliness and despair through the words of a great writer. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is sad . . . so is “The Diary of Anne Frank”. They are also inspiring and delightful and healing and utterly beautiful. Even as I weep over the death of Tom Robinson — the deaths of all the Tom Robinsons of this world — I am lifted up by the way Harper Lee tells his story, comforted by the presence of Atticus and his children.

    I know I’m overreacting — preaching to the choir, too. Maybe I just dislike labels or one-word descriptions. Life is sad, but reading about it in a book written by someone who illuminates and helps me face that suffering is one of reasons I read at all.

  12. i only bought this very very recently, I hadnt heard of it before – it was the englisg Penguin cover that did it! Sounds like I am in for quite a read!

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