It’s been a while since I actually read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I put it down and then forgot to write about it… which I don’t know exactly what it says about the book. It was OK, a little long and not really looking like it was going to get to any sort of point at times, but it was good.
Bleak, but good.
Basically The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is about a man named John Singer, a deaf mute in Georgia during the 1930s. He and his friend Antonopoulos, another deaf mute, live in a tiny little apartment together and have a quaint little life until Antonopoulos begins to go insane and is taken to a mental hospital in another town. Singer moves into a sort of boarding house owned by the Kelly’s. Enter Mick Kelly, a rambunctious tomboy of a girl who has a deep devotion to all things music related. The book follows Mick as she basically grows up. I have a hard time thinking that Mick is the main character, because the whole book revolves around John Singer, but most of the book is from Mick’s point of view, so it’s a little hard to determine.
Singer attracts a whole slew of misfits in the book, all who find solace in his quiet demeanor and his ability to listen to them ramble for hours (although he is deaf, he can read lips – and carries around a little card that explains so, along with “Please don’t shout”, which made me laugh). The oddball characters that seek out Singer are; Mick Kelly, Biff Brannon – local store owner, Jake Blount – a socialistic drunk carnival worker, and Dr. Copeland – an African American doctor who feels a lot of anger towards the injustices of his race. All of these characters are somehow alienated from society, or their families. They are all very similar, yet none of them are in any way connected except through Singer.
I just couldn’t help but feel bad for Singer the most. This guy, all he really wanted was to be able to talk with his old friend Antonopoulos again, to be able to tell about all of the things that were going on in his life. And then there are all of these people just badgering him day and night, talking his deaf little ears off, and never asking him any questions about how he is doing or anything like that. They were all just selfishly leaching some form of comfort out of him. My least favorite character was Blount. I wanted to stuff a sock in his rambling mouth.
The fact that McCullers wrote this at twenty-three is really outstanding. I mean, kudos to her for sure, but I just wasn’t enraptured by the book. It was good, but not the most amazing thing I’ve ever read. If I wanted to read a book about common everyday characters in the 1930s, I would probably just pick up a Steinbeck and go with that. If you haven’t read it, I would. It’s not a waste of time really, it just takes a little extra effort to get through it (at least for me it did). I hate to judge authors on one particular book (especially their first one), so I will probably try to read another by Miss McCullers. At some point.
On to reading!