Clock Without Hands
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Clock Without Hands

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  911 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Set in small-town Georgia on the eve of court-ordered integration, Clock Without Hands is Carson McCullers's final masterpiece as well as her most poignant statement on race, class, and individual responsibility. The actors in this allegory are J. T. Malone, a lonely, dying middle-aged druggist looking to redeem his misspent life; Fox Clane, a corrupt old judge and defende...more
Hardcover, First British Edition
Published 1961 by Cresset Press
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Alan
If not more beautiful than The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, as good and even more brave. Gay miscegenation in the south, in the 40s? No wonder it took 10 years to be published. I'm surprised there wasn't more controversy.
Kyle
Mar 22, 2012 Kyle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: McCullers Fans
Carson McCullers never fails to impress me. In this grim novel of the Southern Gothic tradition, she examines the growing race tensions at the cusp of the civil rights movement, inter-generational gaps and relations, and most importantly the theme of life vs. death. Sheer genius from the first line: "Death is always the same, but each man dies in his own way."

Another aspect of McCullers' writing that I admire is her flawless shifting of points of view between characters. Despite how flawed the...more
Cecily
Published in 1961, this story is set in a small town in southern USA. The overt story concerns race, justice and to some extent mortality, though there are plenty of other threads. However, it's the examination of the protagonists' views on race that are most interesting and, to some extent troubling, especially to the modern reader as the N word and variants are used quite often, albeit as a noun/statement, rather than necessarily as an insult.

It plays with one's sympathies very effectively. F...more
Nathan
Set in a small, Southern town on the eve of the Court's decision in Brown v. Board, Clock Without Hands explores the lives of several of the town's residents as they deal with the changing racial climate of the civil rights era. A story of fear, intolerance, and violence, the novel features a rich and interesting cast of characters that quickly draws you in and a terrible building tension that keeps the pages turning. One of my favorite characters that I've read in a long time is Judge Clane, a...more
Paul
I’m sorry to report that this novel is pretty much a complete disaster. It’s a study of four characters located in Milan, Georgia, at the point in the early 1950s when the civil rights movement was beginning to make itself felt in the American South. We have JT Malone, a pharmacist; Judge Clane, an 85 year old ex-congressman; Jester Clane, his 17 year old orphaned grandson; and Sherman Pew, an 18 year old black guy with blue eyes.
The whole thing is painful. I’m sure there is a great novel out...more
Kendall
A little slow at first- but I was completely engrossed by the end. She's does an incredible of dissecting a character's emotional makeup- peeling back the layers until she reaches the very core of who they are. And as she goes- she carefully holds each layer up to the light where you can examine it- and come to understand why that character is who he is. By doing this- she helps you understand completely- even empathize- with the most despicable character.
Michael Dobson
Published in 1961, this is McCullers’ final novel. She died aged 50 in 1967, leaving an unfinished autobiography.

Clock without hands is a novel about death. It starts with Malone the chemist being told he is dying. Malone goes to visit his friend the Judge, a comic, corpulent Republican former senator in his eighties who drinks and pontificates on his own greatness, while fearing death and mourning his son, dead of suicide in his twenties. Most of the novel is concerned with the Judge, his grand...more
Marcos
I truly think after reading this, its confirmation that she's definitely one of the greatest prose writers I've ever read. This work is slightly more abrupt, terse, and tense than the gentler "The Member of the Wedding" and "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". The interesting thing about this novel are that the main characters: A dying pharmacist, an aging judge, his grandson, and a racially mixed companion are all male. Usually, Ms. McCullers puts a female character that balances out all the masculi...more
Elliott
A thoughtful meditation on dying written as the author, Carson McCullers, was dying. Ravaged by strokes and illness, she starts off this novel with the character J.T. Malone, the pharmacist, finding out he will probably die within the year. From this spring board, McCullers weaves a tale that once again explores the themes of loneliness, isolation, and the search for identity and love. Even the opening line of this book ("Death is always the same, but each man dies in his own way") presents the...more
Christopher Sutch
McCullers's final novel should have been her most significant. It deals with racism in Georgia around the time of the desegregation of public schools, includes some harrowing events (like the bombing of the house of an African-American who moved into a "white" part of town), and generally shows how ridiculous the logic and actions of racists were (and are) when set against the culture of the time and against the overall frame of the personal slow death from leukemia of one of those racists. Howe...more
Denise Lampton
I enjoyed reading this book. The racial unequality in a small southern town in the 60s were right on target. Here, times were changing and Malone facing his own mortality. The relationship between Jester and Sherman, two boys growing up in two different worlds and they were able to forge a friendship. I like seeing what happens when there is the fork in the road and explains much as to what happened and why. I also like the fact that Malone did take a stand before his life came to an end.
Gill
This story is very typical of McCullers and has a sombre resonance. The characters are varied and drawn in a way that pulls one in to the story. She is a craftsman with words, and in a few deft strokes creates people who pull one into the story.
Although the story begins and ends with the fate of J.T. Malone it is his friend the Judge, and the Judge's amanuensis and his grandson who seem to occupy centre stage for much of the story. A masterful novel.
Sylvie
This book is not as appreciated as her famous one, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, but in my opinion it is a very beneficial read. It is a bit shorter, beautifully written and touches upon all the traditional McCullers themes such as race issues and death, along with the added bonus of a gay undercurrent. If you have never read anything by Carson McCullers, start with this because it will hep you appreciate The Heart is a Lonely Hunter that much more.
Rebecca Bugge
A fascinating story about being on the inside of society and not realizing how things are slipping through your fingers - be it your way of life or life itself. It's about men who are anything but brave and men so brave it turns to stupidity. And it's an insightful description of life in a little town in the American south in the middle of the last century.
Berndt Sellheim
Compassionate and moving novel, both an analysis of race relations in a changing America and a deep meditation on mortality. McCullers is a wonderful stylist, and there are sentences of such delicate beauty here they'll make you weep. Vivid and gorgeous.
And short, too, which is always nice, isn't it?
Laila
A slow-starter, but after about Chapter 5 or so, it really picks up - the characters are so vivid and strange and the story is sadly fascinating.
Ariela
It's not about liking the characters, it's about being on intimate terms with them.
John
This is a sad story of racial injustice in a small Southern town after World War II. The novel by McCullers, more or less revolves around a racially bigoted judge and his circle of friends who decide to execute an African American man because he has moved into a white neighborhood. They have a drawing to determine who will get the duty of this grim deed and the slips of paper are pulled from a hat borrowed from the sheriff, no less, who is present at this community meeting of concerned citizens....more
Eric
I read this novel as the 5th novel of the "McCuller's Complete Novels"edition of The Library of America.

It's also her last novel ever, which I guess is why it begins with a medical death sentence.


In the immortal words of Sister Rosetta Tarpe

"Didn't it rain [Carson] Rain, oh yes. Didn't it, yesss! Didn't it? You know it did! Didn't it? Rain Oh oh yesss! How it rained!" Carson!


This book, snatched the tragicomic from Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and like Slick Rick's said in his Hip Hop classic...more
Laura
Clock Without Hands by Carson McCullers is a story about four main characters who live in a small southern town. The story is set during segregation and before the signing into law of Brown v. The Board of Education. The story can be explained through these four characters, J. S. Malone, age forty and owner of a pharmacy, Judge Clane, the town's leading citizen, Jester, the Judge's grandson, who finds his life frighteningly empty, and Sherman Pew the negro boy with blue eyes. I think that this b...more
Dave
Carson McCullers peaked at 23. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter has the character and thematic depth of a work by someone in their 40s. Clock Without Hands reads like the work of a teenager who's read one Greek tragedy and decided that putting the most painfully obvious stock characters and plot points in a shlocktastic melodrama is the way to go. Much like Uncle Tom's Cabin and Full Metal Jacket, it's hard not to laugh at the simple mind that drew up the climactic death scene in this work. This boo...more
Sistermagpie
Took this from the library on a whim since I've liked the couple other books of Carson McCullers' I've read and I think this was my favorite. The writing was so concise and direct, creating vivid characters with rich inner lives. There were different povs and no matter which one I was in I was involved. Even if I liked some characters more than others they were all equally compelling.

Sherman Pew, in particular, was something special. I felt like if this book had a fandom Sherman would be king, h...more
Julie
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is still my favorite Carson McCuller's book, but this one was hard to put down as well. Clock Without Hands takes place in the deep south and explores the very different lives of four individuals and their fear with death or of being different (Jester Clane). I was extremely impressed that a book like this from the 40s addressed issues before it's time like race in the South and had a character questioning their sexuality. I just love the way she writes; the words se...more
Jilles
A beautiful novel, reminiscent of the work of Harper Lee and Tennesee Williams, a hot summer, segregation, violence, and in the end death to bring understanding to it all.
Jacob
Another great novel by a great writer. She has once again created characters that are at once grotesque and perfectly human in their hopes and failures. Like "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," this novel is tinged with heartbreak that never wallows in sentimentality. The only reservation, and really it's so piddling it hardly warrants mentioning, is that the novel is too short. At times the storytelling feels rushed and some of the incidents are not fully fleshed out. But who cares? It's still a gr...more
Tara
This is McCullers' final novel, and less celebrated than the others (perhaps because it was never filmed.) I find it hard to pick a favourite of hers, since I admire her writing so much in general. She had a unique insight into human nature in all its complexity. Clock Without Hands deals very frankly with racism in the South, which at the time of publication - 1961 - was reaching boiling point. It's a brave, compassionate, sometimes shocking book, and is as just deserving of our attention as he...more
Paul
McCullers is one of those writers that can pack an emotional punch with efficient writing, where no word is wasted. Although I am sure that this book would have had even more of an impact had I read it when it was originally published or if I was from the South, the gravity of the subject matter and the loneliness of the characters are more universal.
Amy Malone
Coincidentally, one of the main characters has the same last name I do, and McCullers refers to him throughout by his last name, which is freaking me out because the guy has leukemia. That said, I'm not as fond of this book as I am of "The Member of the Wedding" and "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter;" this one is far less subtle in its treatment of the vagaries of the South. But is still a decent read.
Clint
The title of thsi book is the best part, but the book itself is a medicatation on racism in the south, a topic which just bores the hell out of me. It kind of seemed below her. I think she was dying painfully when she wrote this book, and couldn't really concentrate on it. An anti-climatic end to a great career.
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Carson McCullers (February 19, 1917 – September 29, 1967) was an American writer. She 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 McCul...more
More about Carson McCullers...
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter The Member of the Wedding The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories Reflections in a Golden Eye Collected Stories

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