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Carson McCullers

1917–1967
Carson McCullers photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1959. (Van Vechten Collection at Library of Congress; public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Major works:
The Heart Is a Lonely HunterReflections in a Golden EyeThe Member of the Wedding • “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.”

“Too readily classified, or dismissed, as a Southern Gothicist, Carson McCullers (1917–1967) is one of the most radical writers of the American mid-twentieth century. . . . McCullers is the poet of freakiness—the feeling of being in a body not your own, neither female nor male, but some indefinable, teasing mixture of both that is most keenly felt in adolescence.”—Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books

Excerpt from

The Member of the Wedding

Carson McCullers

It happened that green and crazy summer when Frankie was twelve years old. This was the summer when for a long time she had not been a member. She belonged to no club and was a member of nothing in the world. Frankie had become an unjoined person who hung around in doorways, and she was afraid. In June the trees were bright dizzy green, but later the leaves darkened, and the town turned black and shrunken under the glare of the sun. At first Frankie walked around doing one thing and another. The sidewalks of the town were gray in the early morning and at night, but the noon sun put a glaze on them, so that the cement burned and glittered like glass. The sidewalks finally became too hot for Frankie’s feet, and also she got herself in trouble. She was in so much secret trouble that she thought it was better to stay at home—and at home there was only Berenice Sadie Brown and John Henry West. The three of them sat at the kitchen table, saying the same things over and over, so that by August the words began to rhyme with each other and sound strange. The world seemed to die each afternoon and nothing moved any longer. At last the summer was like a green sick dream, or like a silent crazy jungle under glass.

Read a passage from The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
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