A few weeks ago I read, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. It was a beautifully written and universally empathetic tale set in the deep south in the 1940's. I was shocked to learn she was only 23 years old when she wrote it. It was a solicitous summer read, and its characters will undoubtedly linger with me a long time from now.
I love not only the way she writes, but the way she observes and her social awareness. Here are some excerpts:
"My people were brought from the great plains, and the dark, green jungles. On the long chained journeys to the coast they died by the thousands. Only the strong survived. Chained in the foul ships that brought them here they died again. Only the hardy Negroes with will could live. Beaten and chained and sold on the block, the least of these strong ones perished again. And finally through the bitter years the strongest of my people are still here. Their sons and daughters, their grandsons and great grandsons."
"But say a man does know. He sees the world as it is and he looks back thousands of years to see how it all come about. He watches the slow agglutination of capital and power and he sees its pinnacle today. He sees America as a crazy house... He sees a whole damn army of unemployed and billions of dollars and thousands of miles of land wasted... He sees how when people suffer just so much they get mean and ugly and something dies in them. But the main thing he sees is that the whole system of the world is built on a lie. And although it's as plain as the shining sun—the don't-knows have lived with that lie so long they just can't see it."