THE LONELY HUNTER: A Biography of Carson McCullers by Virginia Spencer Carr

THE LONELY HUNTER: A Biography of Carson McCullers

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A long, full-fashioned and eminently just biography with little intervention on the part of the author--accomplished primarily through those who knew her (Carson McCullers knew almost everyone in the creative milieu of her time), a few who loved her, and many who could not put up with her demanding self for long. As Lillian Hellman is heard saying here: ""Carson burdened everyone who got close to her. . . . I don't like such burdens."" Indeed she did, this untidy, gangly, touchy, urgently pathetic girl who never grew up to solve any of her difficulties with the world or her own sexual ambivalence and always required a great deal of attention-the attention her mother gave her from the day of her birth. Carson was elusive, extortionate, even ""cannibalistic,"" and always unhappy--never finding ""reciprocity in a love relationship."" Never really loving? Certainly not Reeves McCullers whom she married very young, left on and off, including the time after his first suicide attempt with a horrid remark. At his long-courted end, she didn't even bother to attend his funeral. Perhaps only the Swiss Annemarie, as unstable as Carson, was her real ""beloved""; always there were the friendships of David Diamond (whom she shared with Reeves) and George Davis who reserved for her a pied-a-terre in his fabulous Brooklyn house, and the entourage at Yaddo where she spent years. And at the end Tennessee Williams (he contributes the introduction here) and a young French woman and the psychiatrist, Dr. Mary Mercer, who attended her daily. It is almost best to remember Carson through her works where she escaped into that special wistful world of the grotesque. (A far greater writer, Flannery O'Connor, will tell you that ""anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the Northern reader, unless it is grotesque in which case it is going to be called realistic."") Mrs. Cart discusses the books, books into plays and stories as they appeared intermittently but lets them speak for themselves. Or as in Carson's case, and in her own words--""writing is a wandering, dreaming occupation"" which shouldn't be tampered with. As for Carson's story, it fascinates and exasperates much as she did--tapering off in the last sad years of constant drinking and smoking, real physical pain, and psychic destitution. One remembers her and identifies with her here best as Frankie Addams, ""a member of nothing in the world.

Pub Date: July 4th, 1975
ISBN: 0820325228
Publisher: Doubleday