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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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Her final work, a collection of children’s verse entitled Sweet as a Pickle, Clean as a Pig, was published in 1964. Around this time, Edward Albee’s adaptation of McCullers’s The Ballad of the Sad Café debuted on Broadway. The play earned six Tony Award nominations.
McCullers suffered a final stroke on August 15, 1967, which left her in a coma for 46 days. She died on September 29 at the Nyack Hospital and was later buried at the town’s Oak Hill Cemetery. More than 200 people attended her funeral, including Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams and actresses Myrna Loy and Julie Harris.
Shortly after her death, the first film adaptation of her work was released. Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor starred in Reflections in a Golden Eye. The following year, the film version of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968) appeared on the big screen and netted Academy Award nominations for two of its stars—Alan Arkin and Sondra Locke.
In recent years, there has been a revived interest in McCullers’s work. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey selected McCullers’s first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, for her popular book club in 2004, sending paperback sales soaring. More than 60 years after its original publication, the novel’s themes of loneliness and isolation still speaks today’s readers.
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