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The work of Carson McCullers, author of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and The Member of the Wedding, is must-read southern gothic fiction.
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Continuing her exploration of loneliness and isolation, the work was more provocative than her first novel, tackling issues relating to impotency, bisexuality, infidelity, bestiality, and murder. Some of elements of the stormy relationships depicted in this story may have been inspired by her own marriage—both she and her husband were bisexual and had affairs.
That same year, Carson grappled with some health issues. She made her first visit to the Yaddo Artists’ Colony in New York where she started her next major work, The Ballad of the Sad Café, which was first published in Harper’s Bazaar in 1943. In this story, McCullers wrote about a love triangle in a small southern town. Some consider this to be one of her best works.
While she had divorced her husband, McCullers remained close to Reeves and the pair decided to remarry in 1945. Her career continued to thrive with the publication of the novella The Member of the Wedding the following year. In this story, the narrator—a young teenage girl—wants to be with her older brother and his bride. Also in 1946, McCullers met a young, gifted writer named Truman Capote through her sister Rita. The two became fast friends, and McCullers helped launch his career. Unfortunately, the friendship later soured over McCullers’ concerns that Capote may have used some of her material and that he was not properly grateful enough to her for her assistance in his success.
Having struggled with health problems much of her life, McCullers was dealt another devastating blow in 1947 when she had two strokes—one in August and one in November, which left her paralyzed on one side. She grew increasingly despondent over her poor health, leading a suicide attempt in 1948. Recovering physically and emotionally from the incident, McCullers spent much of the latter part of the year with friend and famous playwright Tennessee Williams, working on a stage adaptation of The Member of the Wedding. In January 1950, her play opened on Broadway to strong reviews. It even won the Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play that year.
In the early 1950s, McCullers spent a lot of time in Europe with her husband and such literary friends as poet W. H. Auden, Gore Vidal, and Tennessee Williams. Reeves McCullers was increasingly depressed and wanted to Carson and himself to commit suicide together. Fearing for her own well being, Carson returned to the United States in 1953, and Reeves ended his own life in a Paris hotel by taking an overdose of sleeping pills in November of that year.
Her next efforts failed to live up to her earlier successes. In 1957, her play The Square Root of Wonderful opened on Broadway, but closed after only 45 performances. Her final novel, Clock Without Hands, was published in 1961 without garnering much critical attention or commercial interest. The following year, McCullers had surgery to remove a cancerous breast and another surgery to fix her paralyzed left hand.
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Like in Gone With the Wind, The Sun Also Rises after Twilight, even in a Pet Cemetary Where the Wild Things Are. But let's not be too morbid and discuss creepy things like The Satanic Verses or try to get an Interview With a Vampire from The Stranger Who Professes 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.' Going round in round like this, you may never know Where the Sidewalk Ends, and that would be unfortunate since Uncle Tom's Cabin is just around the corner...
Okay, we could go on, but we won't torture you. You get the point. Our attempt at creative writing is nothing compared to the imaginative minds of our Famous Fiction Authors Group.
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