Category Archives: Carson McCullers

Carson McCullers

McCullers’ Light

“The soft gray of the dawn had lightened and the sky was the wet pale blue of a watercolor sky just painted and not yet dried.”

“It was the time of afternoon when the bars of sunlight crossed the back yard like the bars of a bright strange jail.”

“In the gray of the kitchen on summer afternoons the tone of her voice was golden and quiet, and you could listen to the color and the singing of her voice and not follow the words.”

I blogged about Carson McCullers last Friday, and now as I continue reading The Member of the Wedding, I am struck by her descriptions of the summer days experienced by 12-year old Frankie. That watercolor sky would not be so memorable if McCullers had not told us it was still wet. And when she talks about the bars of sunlight, I can see them slanting into Frankie’s yard. She is a master of writing the atmosphere in this story which McCullers once referred to as a fugue.

Carson McCullers

Carson McCullers

“There’s nothing that makes you so aware of the improvisation of human existence as a song unfinished. Or an old address book.”

I’ve just discovered writer Carson McCullers (1917-1967). I am reading her book The Member of the Wedding about a lonely girl, jealous of her brother’s wedding, who feels she doesn’t belong anywhere. In 1946 Saturday Review wrote about her book, which also became a Broadway play: “What makes this story so unusual is the fact that most of it takes place through the medium of desultory conversations between three really weird people sitting in an even weirder kitchen. Nothing or almost nothing occurs here, and yet every page is filled with a sense of something having happened, happening, and about to happen. This in itself is a considerable technical feat; and, beyond that, there is magic in it.”

McCullers’ life was filled with writing, personal sadness, health problems, alcoholism and literary acclaim; you can read more about her here. Let me know if you’ve read any novels, short stories or poetry of McCullers whose style is often referred to as Southern Gothic.