Melissa's Reviews > The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories

The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories by Carson McCullers
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's review
Dec 06, 2011

really liked it
Read in December, 2011

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe is an odd little story, which partly explains why I like it. It's sad, and sharp, and full of imagery. It has a haunting effect that leaves you knowing that you may not ever understand what it means. But, it leaves you wondering. For me, that's enough to recognize it as beautifully literary.

What was clear to me in this story is the complexity of love and companionship, and just how inexplicable it can be. Carson McCullers captured the subtleties of town mentality and the sad searching under-current of the human condition. She painted an antique scene in my mind, of that old Georgia mill town, a rosewood sofa in the parlor, still-made liquor, a pink rose painted china chamber pot, and paint peeling weathered wooden porches. Her characters aren't physically beautiful, quite the opposite. Her characters aren't innately good and lovable. They're flawed, ugly, mean, crafty, cranky, greedy, but somehow you root for them anyway. Sometimes you root for them because they're all you have to root for, and sometimes because they're the lesser of two evils. Sometimes they're just human, therefore so innately flawed.

I love to be left guessing when I turn the last page because I feel that I have a part in the story. My role here is just to ponder, so that's what I'll happily do.
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