I am a writer, editor and gardener living in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire. I have a degree and masters in Literature and Philosophy undertaken while living in London. I obtained a PGCE in English and History and taught for two years in a secondary school in England (age range: 11-18). My writing credits can be viewed here. I have had two poetry books published and am co-translator of Alain-Fournier:Poems (Carcanet, 2016). I am an editor and associate publisher at The High Window Press.
A few weeks ago I was engrossed in re-reading a novel - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - that I had plucked from the bookshelves of a friend's flat I was staying in during a few days in Munich. I began reading it in Bavaria and finished reading it in England having inadvertently taken the book back with me in my backpack. It was a long, tight read. I read it slowly, sometimes a page at a time. It was a prolonged reading experience because it's a book rich in minute details and overlapping small-town story-lines that made me think of William Faulkner and especially Faulkner's book Sanctuary.
It is a book hard to summarise at a distance. When I was reading it, I wrote notes and had plans for an essay (I did make some notes on white cards) but now, several weeks later, I can't think of any overall standout theme. The author, Carson McCullers, is like a documentary maker getting to the heart and bones of a small, southern town. Her camera goes in close, uncomfortably close, to a populace of misfits and the damned.
The fracturing of characters' lives is unremitting, the taut prose gleams boldly and is heroically unforgiving, precise and cutting like a surgeon's knife, the narrative is film-like, the scenes like minimalist paintings, the honesty of emotions pared back to a raw richness, until the burst of defiant expression. The characters are so hard on themselves. The heart is a ruthless hunter, maybe?
And yet, out of the bleakness there is a progressive reach, truth is nearby, and the lowest of the low are ennobled by their immense struggles. I can think of no other novel that, chapter by chapter, could be a contender for a cut and paste treatment. You can read these chapters any which way and still feel the pull of Literature's power.
I have to post this yellowing broken book back to Munich. It was a hard novel to surface from.
On one of my white cards I wrote:
Benedict Mady Copeland (Dr Copeland)
is a precursor to:
Martin Luther King
Rev. Jesse Jackson