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Collected Stories

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  1,878 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
Carson McCullers--novelist, dramatist, poet--was at the peak of her powers as a writer of short fiction. Here are nineteen stories that explore her signature themes: wounded adolescence, loneliness in marriage, and the tragicomedy of life in the South. Here too are "The Member of the Wedding" and "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe," novellas that Tennessee Williams judged to be "
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 15th 1998 by Mariner Books (first published 1987)
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Jan 12, 2011 Constance rated it it was amazing
This book has ignited a full-blown Carson McCullers obsession in me. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was a phenomenal book but these stories (short stories and two novellas) actually took my breath away. They also made my heart flutter and my stomach go all swoopy, which confirms that I'm hopelessly crushing on the work of a dead author. Is that even possible?

It's amazing how believable these bizarre, sad, lonely characters are--maybe because she poured so much of herself into so many of them. I'm
Jul 03, 2011 Cynthia rated it it was amazing
This is not the edition I read--mine is a 700-page chunk of delicious reading, published by Quality Paperback Books in 1991.

My favorite was the first short story in the collection, "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe."

"The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" made me wonder if Carson McCullers and Harper Lee knew each other. The young Mick Kelly reminded me a bit of Scout in "To Kill A Mockingbird." Mick spends a lot of time thinking, about a million things. "Some kind of music was too private to sing in a house c
Hannah Messler
Feb 16, 2009 Hannah Messler rated it liked it
Why is it that the more I love Flannery the less I love Carson? They are pitted against one another, somehow. It's not just me, either--I mentioned Carson to Tedd and he said, "I like Flannery O'Connor." Somehow Flannery O'Connor is a miracle, while McCullers is a fascination. I will keep reading, though.

M. Sarki
Jun 03, 2011 M. Sarki rated it really liked it
Shelves: abandoned
Though I enjoy much of McCuller's writing, I prefer her novels more and consider them far-surpassing her shorter works. I felt I was running out of time and therefore had to abandon what still remains in this book for me unread.
Oct 21, 2007 Amy rated it it was ok
These "short stories" are more like vignettes. It's like getting a small peek into someone's living room one afternoon and seeing how empty everyone's life is. She showcases child prodigies who just want to be normal, stay-at-home-wives that drink themselves silly out of boredom, suicidal stay-at-home-wives, and bored musicians and writers.

I first discovered McCullers in reading her short story, "The Sojourner". And, frankly, that's the best of all of the short stories in this book. It took me
Larry Bassett
I am one of those who enjoyed most of the short stories in this Collected Stories of Carson McCullers more than the longer "The Ballad of the Sad Café" and "The Member of the Wedding" the first time around. But now that I have spent more time with the longer stories (including watching each in its movie version) I have to admit that their complexity is growing on me.

I like short stories because, well, because they are short! I can keep the whole story in front of me at once, decide pretty quickl
May 15, 2009 Andrew rated it really liked it
Many of these stories are actually vignettes and brief character sketches that don't do much. McCullers is one of those authors whose prose seems strangely genderless, neither quite masculine nor feminine, who is neither ostentatious or austere. In fact, some of these 'stories' (McCullers may have been at the forefront of the Fast Fiction movement and not even known it) remind me of John Cheever - the same frankness, the same sorrow, the same pointlessness. An old Jew rides on a bus with a young ...more
Corinne Wasilewski
Dec 26, 2012 Corinne Wasilewski rated it liked it
"The Ballad of the Sad Cafe" is my favourite of the collection and deserves a five star rating. Its writing is indolent but not overdone and oh so satisfying. The characters are bigger than life, but, believable all the same and the dialogue is perfect.
I also enjoyed "The Member of the Wedding" and think McCullers did an excellent job at nailing those feelings of loneliness and the need to belong to something bigger than oneself ("the we of me") that overwhelm in adolescence. These feelings b
Jul 17, 2007 David rated it really liked it
I bought this to keep in my car, remembering "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" from high school.

Carson McCullers breaks every one of Strunk & White's rules. And she demonstrates how there are exceptions to every rule. I envy, sit in awe, and wish I could write so beautifully.
Jul 31, 2012 Patricia rated it it was amazing
Review to come later.
Mar 08, 2015 Shannon rated it it was amazing
Worth the price of admission for "Ballad of the Sad Cafe" and "A Member of the Wedding" alone.
Jul 14, 2016 Hanna rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with McCullers writing while reading „The heart is a lonely hunter“, which moved me deeply.
Her short stories and novellas also show her incredible talent to make the reader connect with the protagonists on a very deep and emotional level. I could relate to so many of her characters and was intrigued how easy McCullers made it for me to evoke certain feelings.

Here’s a quick overview of thoughts/ratings on each story as I took them down in my notebook after reading:

Sucker 5*

I recogn
Kay Robart
Although McCullers is known as a “Southern Gothic” writer, the only piece in this collection that truly fits that description is “The Ballad of the Sad Café.” This story illustrates her ideas about love–that people love other people who are unattainable and that even the most unlikely people can be the recipients of adoration or even obsession. Several of the other stories are also about this theme. Readers familiar with McCullers do not expect cheerful tales, but they are beautifully written an ...more
Allie Brayton
Nov 08, 2015 Allie Brayton rated it it was amazing
I only read The Haunted Boy for my Anthology piece and it was great!! Gave me a new perspective on what I was reading and writing about.
Mar 15, 2017 Jesse rated it really liked it
Positively brutal. The stories are all about listless, friendless teenage girls in the deep south, and broke southern alcoholics living in New York City. This makes me believe that the author was first one, then the other. The novella that closes out the collection, Member of the Wedding, is one of the saddest things I have ever read. It tears the scab off of adolescence in a way that is simultaneously unreal and absolutely true.
Apr 18, 2010 William rated it really liked it
The Member of the Wedding

What a marvelous storyteller Carson McCullers was. In this tale of the fateful coming-of-age summer of a 12-year-old girl in Georgia, she portrays complex emotional experiences and relationships while remaining faithful to the girl’s viewpoint. McCullers shows us enough so that we understand what Frankie is going through, but she doesn’t betray the girl’s voice. I was particularly struck by how McCullers held my attention while telling the externally uneventful story of
Sunny Shore
Feb 22, 2013 Sunny Shore rated it it was amazing
My only experience with Carson McCullers till about 6 months ago were the two films made from her books Member of the Wedding and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I have read those which were so brilliant, I just finished this short story collection, which contained also the novellas Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Member. McCullers had the fortune to be a very complex person which translated to her writing in such a way, I would call her a literary psychologist. This author had more insight into people ...more
Eric Hinkle
Dec 04, 2016 Eric Hinkle rated it it was amazing
I think Carson is officially my favorite writer of her time. God, I love her.

From "Untitled Piece":

Standing there alone on the roof he always felt he had to shout out -- but he did not know what it was he wanted to say. It seemed like if he could put this thing into words he would no longer be a boy with big rough bare feet and hands that hung down clumsy from the outgrown sleeves of his lumberjack. He would be a great man, a kind of God, and what he called out would make things that bothered hi
5 stars. A must reader for anyone who loves beautiful writing. Granted not all of the stories were my cup of tea, but Ballad of the Sad Cafe will grab 5 stars all by itself. This story has a whole host of unique, well-drawn characters dwelling in a small southern town. At the center of it is Miss Amelia, who is the wealthiest woman in the town, but you wouldn't know it to look at her. She has more of a manly demeanor, and has a penchant for suing anyone for the tiniest thing. Along comes an outs ...more
Many years ago, Carson McCullers was one of my favorite authors. I read much of what she had written, including The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and A Member of the Wedding. I have to admit that I hadn't given her much thought in recent years.

My book group decided to read A Member of the Wedding and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe. Both are in this volume. I had forgotten McCullers' way with words. I had forgotten how I felt what Frankie was going through as I read that story. There were a number of stor
Girl Underground
Jun 26, 2008 Girl Underground rated it liked it
This is one of those authors who I read a blurb about somewhere (I think an issue of Gourmet where an famous old cook, compiling a list of "what is the South," wrote something like "Carson McCullers is the South." The magazine footed a two-line except, and through that, I was intrigued enough to find some of her work. The book's stars were definitely "The Member of the Wedding" and "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe," delivering the American Gothic feel I was expecting to see from the get go. While nei ...more
Mar 08, 2008 Clent rated it liked it
The way Carson McCullers is able to capture the perspective of classic southern, female character is quite astounding. This is most evident in two of her short stories "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe" and her more famous "Member of the Wedding."

Female readers (and potentially male readers) have a unique connection to the struggles faced by the two main characters of these stories. The desire to be loved and the difficulties of growing up in "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe" and "The Member of the Weddin
To me the novella The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, with its theme of love as a dark and grotesque compulsion, is the standout in this collection. The accompanying short stories are similar in tone and come across more as sketches or character studies than completed works. And The Member of the Wedding I just don't know what to make of - is it coming of age, coming out, or the surrender/discovery of self?

I'd recommend going with the paper version of this book. My copy is the nook edition which has s
Jorge Almeida
Oct 05, 2016 Jorge Almeida rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: livros-2016
Doze excelentes contos de Carson McCullers em que uma temática se insinua e se repete com interessantes variações: a dor e a desorientação provocadas por uma mutação interior que se não deseja nem compreende completamente a não ser nas suas terríveis consequências ao nível da identidade de quem a sofre.

Uma mudança interior indefinida, por vezes lenta por vezes súbita, como que o partir de uma parte de nós próprios, da nossa alma, e que torna incompletos, perdidos e frágeis.

Ler comentário comple
Siobhán Mc Laughlin
Aug 20, 2014 Siobhán Mc Laughlin rated it it was amazing
Excellent. The Ballad of the Sad Café (the short novella) included here was superb. I found all these stories to be so much better than Mc Culler's novels. They seem to be more deftly crafted and finely tuned to the emotional spectrum. Each displays her innate understanding of the human condition, rendered in a clean and calm prose that beats with a hammering pulse of accuracy. McCuller's had an eye that was all-seeing and free from sentiment. Stylistically perfect, affecting and highly memorabl ...more
Jun 29, 2015 Brandon rated it liked it
While the shorter works bear McCullers sense of voice and she effectively inhabits her characters, she benefits when she has more room to work with. Her longer works surpass her shorter works, allow for more growth and sophistication of her characters and, ultimately, pack more punch. As such, Member of the Wedding and Ballad of the Sad Cafe aren't to be missed. Both are heart wrenching in their slow, methodic ways. The other shorter works feel like sketches. They are remarkable in their own way ...more
May 16, 2016 Claire rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
McCullers' stories of frustrated dreamers, troubled creators, and inescapable histories in the southern United States in the thirties through fifties are sometimes joyless, sometimes poignantly beautiful, and always expressed with clear and succinct language. It would be impossible to avoid recognizing something of one's self in Frankie, the twelve-year-old "member of the wedding" who falls in love with an impossible prospect or Miss Amelia of the Sad Cafe, to whom loving and being loved both br ...more
May 04, 2010 Becca rated it really liked it
Some of the short stories in this collection sounded so similar that I had trouble distinguishing them. However, the two novellas--The Ballad of the Sad Cafe and The Member of the Wedding are excellent. The former is a bizarre and engaging Southern Gothic. The latter recreates with painful accuracy the sense of alienation and fear that coincide with the transition from childhood to adolescence.
Aug 02, 2011 Jeane rated it did not like it
This book was good if you're a very mopey person and enjoy cutting yourself! Seriously depressing stuff! Geez! Was there one happy story? the answer, no. Most story were reminiscent of McCullers own depressing life. Stories of drunken spouses, and abusive parents, failure, and endless struggle to be understood are thriving in these pages. I am just happy that I made the struggle to finish every story in the book!
Carson McCullers's writing represents so much of what is wonderful in Southern literature: nostalgia, drifters, and recreation. These stories are love stories, coming of age stories, and stories of loss. They're a beautiful introduction to McCullers' style without the same level of commitment of her novels, but worth the read just the same. A contemporary of Capote and Lee, you can feel what's bubbling in these cross- and post-Depression, pre-Civil Rights stories.
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Light to Read By: Carson McCullers 1 1 Dec 31, 2013 09:25AM  
Light to Read By: * Background Information 1 1 Dec 31, 2013 09:13AM  
  • The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers
  • The Complete Stories of Truman Capote
  • The Collected Stories
  • Eudora Welty
  • The Complete Stories
  • The Kindness Of Strangers: The Life Of Tennessee Williams
  • Thirteen Stories
  • The Portable Faulkner
  • Kentucky Straight: Stories
  • James Baldwin
  • Mattaponi Queen
  • State of Grace
  • Of Love and Dust
  • The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter
  • High Lonesome
  • Where You'll Find Me and Other Stories
  • Selected Stories
  • The Magic Barrel
Carson McCullers was an American who wrote fiction, often described as Southern Gothic, that explores the spiritual isolation of misfits and outcasts of the South.

From 1935 to 1937 she divided her time, as her studies and health dictated, between Columbus and New York and in September 1937 she married an ex-soldier and aspiring writer, Reeves McCullers. They began their married life in Charlotte,
More about Carson McCullers...

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