Collected Stories of Carson McCullers
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Collected Stories of Carson McCullers

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  1,094 ratings  ·  61 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 "...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published September 15th 1998 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) (first published 1987)
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Constance
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...more
Hannah  Messler
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.

Cynthia
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...more
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...more
Corinne Wasilewski
"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...more
David
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.
William
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...more
Sunny Shore
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
Andrew
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
Girl Underground
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
Amy
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...more
Clent
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...more
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
John Tipper
One of the great female Southern authors, like Welty, and O'Connor.
Alexis
Another of my favorite story tellers!
Camille
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.
Kristine
I can't believe we never read about Carson McCullers or studied her in American Literature. She is an amazing writer, and I'm so happy to have stumbled upon her. She should be considered right along with all the other great American writers. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe and A Member of the Wedding are amazing, and I am still thinking about them days later. Would be a great book club read, with very interesting short stories and novellas, and lots to talk about.
Clint
The clear high point of this nearly complete collection of short stories and short novels by Southern author Carson McCullers is the concluding piece and longest entry: THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING. And as extraordinarily touching as that writing is, even it suffers in comparison to McCullers' greatest work, her debut novel THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER. With those two works, McCullers cements herself as a true heavyweight of 20th century literature.
Jeane
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!
Becca
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.
Chris Gager
I don't think the edition I read had so many stories but close enough. I like Carson McCullers and will be reading "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" in the future. It will be a re-read. I remember watching a TV version of "Member of the Wedding" many years ago. Julie Harris and Brandon DeWilde. Spinal meningitis sticks in my mind. Don't remember the name of the older black actress who was in it. Ethel Waters?
Sheila
*spoilers*

I was most moved by "Member of The Wedding". Absolutely devastated by the brief and terrible description John Henry's death near the end of the book (he reminded me of my own son). A little surprised there wasn't more detail as to Frankie's feelings about his demise - she seemed to recover so quickly. Illustrating the self-healing nature of youth, maybe?


Cathleen
read "The Orphanage", "Correspondence", and "Madame Zilensky and the King of Finland"

This is at least my second attempt with McCullers (I read The Member of the Wedding years ago), and I just don't seem to connect. I want to, but perhaps I need to read some literary criticism to better understand her purported mastery.
Michael Fraser
Hit and miss. 'Ballad of the Sad Cafe' and a few others are truly great. A lot of the stories simply retread the same territory as 'The Heart is a Lonely Hunter'. Indeed, more than half the book is a seamless continuum of the exploration of intellectual and spiritual loneliness which comprised 'Lonely Hunter', without doing anything new.
Greg Fanoe
I won't count "The Member of the Wedding" in the rating since I've rated that on Goodreads rated separately (but note, it is one of my all time favorite books). Other than "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe", which holds up pretty well with the rest of McCullers' best works, the short stories here are mostly just OK.
Ufuk Tutucu
When I read Mrs. McCullers, all I can feel is sadness about her characters. Her characters are multi-layered, reflecting all American reactions to various situations that exist. The pain she goes through is not unique even though she makes it seem so. That is why she is not Faulkner, O'Connor or Welty.
Joey Schwab
i just couldn't get into this collection. mccullers is much better as a long novelist. some of the stories are engaging, and there are a few sentences that will make your heart stop, but overall i just didn't care much about the characters and never really felt pulled in by the stories.
Sherry
Partially read: I read the Ballad of the Sad Cafe out of this book. It was strange and heartbreaking and beautiful. While the story itself was odd - there were many, many passages written by Carson McCullers that were so lovely, insightful and profound that I marked almost every page.
Benjamin
I don't know if this is the right version but... I read some of the short stories first, and put the book down. Recently I picked it up again and jumped straight to Ballad of the Sad Cafe - a novella packaged with the shorts - and it's a huge improvement. You're on, McCullers.
Gail Park
Reading these short stories was a frustrating experience for me. I'm glad I read it with a book discussion group, because after I was able to hear others' comments and understand the background and author's "baggage" and viewpoint, it helped me to appreciate the writing more.
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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  
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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 Clock without Hands

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