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The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  638 ratings  ·  27 reviews
The Lonely Hunter is widely accepted as the standard biography of Carson McCullers. Author of such landmarks of modern American fiction as Reflections in a Golden Eye and The Ballad of the Sad Café, Carson McCullers was the enfant terrible of the literary world of the 1940s and 1950s. Gifted but tormented, vulnerable but exploitative, McCullers led a life that had all the ...more
Paperback, 680 pages
Published June 30th 2003 by University of Georgia Press (first published 1975)
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Paul Bryant
Dec 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Fascinated by the garish grisly life of Miss Carson McCullers I embarked upon this big fat bio, and first I thought it might be a mistake, as the last big fat bio I read (Sinatra) made me want to fly to America and disinter Sinatra's remains for the simple pleasure I might have gained in booting Frankie's skull about whilst yelling obscenities. Since you will not have read any recent report of a British man arrested whilst trying to break into the Sinatra family crypt, you will perceive that I m ...more
May 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
It takes an extraordinary person to write such remarkable literature, and Carson McCullers was extraordinary to say the least. She has a complicated personality that ranged from vivacious and sweet to cold and sullen. She was an indulged child and an over-protected adult who lived as much in her own fantasies as she did in reality. She had an unusual number of friends who went to extreme lengths to prove their friendship, among them such notables as Tennessee Williams. She fed off of people and ...more
I don't know if this is the third or fourth time I read this book but, It reminds me of the old saying don't ever meet your idols in the flesh. I read this Literary biography and others like it Carson McCullers like other writers of merit carry around them, a cloud of destruction of themselves and others its the people who surround them who pay that price the hardest every time. That same combo of genius, will, and drive that makes excellent literature. when I read this book I always want her an ...more
Iona  Stewart
This is a voluminous, comprehensive, well-written book.

Carson was a precocious, musically gifted child who played the piano with prowess from an early age. She originally intended to study music at an illustrious college but when she lost the tuition money, she turned to writing instead.

Carson had always talked about how she was going to be rich and famous, though she didn’t know how; she thus proved the power of the spoken word. (Ok, I don’t know whether or not she actually became rich, but she
Kevin Dawe
Apr 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent biography of Carson McCullers. I would say that if you are a fan of McCullers, you will enjoy this. If not, it might be too in depth for non-fans (or just those who don't know of her). There is a great amount of detail which can sometimes bog it down slightly, but at the end you come away knowing there is likely very little (if anything) else to be known about Lula Carson.

As I said it is very in depth and covers her entire life, which was full of interesting people and event
Sep 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
I am absolutely struggling through this biography. It has way too much irrelevant information and I am actually starting to skim the pages. I do not feel that it gives the reader all that much insight into carson Mc Cullers and her psychic and physical problems, but rather repeats itself incessantly about the same two books, and the same 5 friends: and at times reads more like a biography of Reeves Mc Cullers, her husband.
May 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Despite having a NYT best-selling debut novel, subsequent novels that also did very well, short stories published in leading magazines, a stage play produced, and movie rights sold, Carson McCullers seems to have been always seeking financial support so that she could keep writing. She applied for three Guggenheims (got two), had a standing invitation to Yaddo, all expenses paid, received numerous grants, was always welcome in the homes of friends and fellow writers. And this in the so-called go ...more
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Well researched. It is interesting how reading a biography written a a while ago contains facts about a person's life that indicate information that was not specifically spelled out. I think this book, written in our current state of open sharing, would read much differently. I wanted to read this after reading "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". Her best known novel, though very well written, for me, did not stand up over the course of time. ...more
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this when it came out. I read it again later. I loved it and still love it. I think that Carr's bio is such a clear and loving portrait of Carson McCullers that I find it difficult to imagine a better one. ...more
Grace K
A super-sensationalist pot-boiler '70s biography. Way better than the more intellectually mature bio by Joysanne Savigneau; Virgina Spenser Carr seemed to believe everything anyone ever told her about Carson McCullers - from sherry-tea swilling to whorehouse living - making for a much better read. ...more
Sep 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Fascinating--McCullers' tempestuous life story reads like a novel. ...more
Murielle Cyr
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Set in the American south of the 1940’s, Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, deals with the spiritual and emotional aloneness of people who are misfits. Biff, the generous Café owner who wears his dead wife’s perfume and collects old newspapers; Mick, the young girl who lives in her inner world of music; Dr. Copeland, the black doctor, whose dream of a better life for his people has driven his own family away; Jake whose forceful communist views make him an outcast; and there’s John ...more
Edward Creter
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This bio of author Carson McCullers is inspiring and sad, yet liberating. We understand what hell she lived thru for a chance at heaven. She's given us so much, even a mental handicap like me. ...more
Rochelle Holt
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 05, 2012 marked it as to-read
Prompted by Paul's review: ...more
josé almeida
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
trata-se da (monumental) biografia de carson mccullers, um trabalho de escrita e pesquisa que ocupou a autora durante vários anos. narrativa fluida, embora exaustiva nas referências factuais, fica-se preso logo desde as primeiras páginas, quando lula carson smith ainda era uma criança na cidade de columbus. para além da descrição de toda uma vida - sempre interligada com a obra - são-nos dados imensos episódios, comentários, personagens, etc etc, que conferem humanidade e autenticidade ao relato ...more
Vivian Valvano
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fascinating life of a brilliant author.
Kat Masek
May 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
I'm a out-and-out cheater to say I read this book. I made it through about 3/5 of it. In general, I don't enjoy biographies. However, I read several Carson McCullers works in a row and was so in love with her writing--particularly in "The Member of the Wedding," but also in "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," that I wanted to know more about this person who was able to faultlessly express the souls of her characters in lean, beautiful prose. However, the author's biographer, Carr, turned out to be a ...more
Tom Hooker
Dec 16, 2009 rated it liked it
From McCullers's birth in Columbus, Georgia, in 1917 to her death in upstate New York in 1967, The Lonely Hunter thoroughly covers every significant event in, and aspect of, the writer's life: her rise as a young literary sensation; her emotional, artistic, and sexual eccentricities and entanglements; her debilitating illnesses; her travels in America and Europe; and the provenance of her works from their earliest drafts through their book, stage, and film versions. ...more
Oct 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
I'm loving it so far. It's so dense, a zillion details... ...more
Martha Steele
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent biography. Reads like a novel. I'm a big fan of her writings but never knew anything about her life. ...more
Mary Narkiewicz
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this many years ago and I should really read it again. This bio meant a lot to me when I went through my "Carson McCullers' phase".
Cynthia Freyer
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
No loved this book... A little slow but great story.
Sep 15, 2014 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Nov 06, 2011 rated it liked it
shw was a sad, sad person who didn't have a grasp on reality
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There was a plainness and extraordinary, intense weirdness to this short life. Excellent biography, very well researched.
Mike Whaley
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent biography of Carson McCullers. I appreciate her writings even more after reading this bio.
Nurzada Jakyp Kyzy
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Virginia Spencer Carr (July 21, 1929 – April 10, 2012) was an award-winning biographer of Carson McCullers, John Dos Passos and Paul Bowles.

Carr was also a college professor for more than 25 years at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, and Georgia State University in Atlanta.

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