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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


An overlooked classic, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter follows five people living in the American South prior to World War II. Each loves humanity deeply, but for one reason or another, they are severed from those who might understand them.

 

The first is Mick Kelly, a music lover from a poor family who, given her class and gender, is barred from opportunities to learn an instrument or musical composition. No one in her family understands her, so she is resigned to listening to classical greats on the radio, laboriously plunking them out during the scant minutes she has access to her school’s piano. Gifted but poor, her dream might escape her.

 

The second, Jake Blount, is a labor agitator, passionately advocating for the rights of workers wherever he drifts, but tragically unable to foment change or even connect with other people. His failure to realize justice and find like-minded workers and thinkers in the South sends him searching for consolation in liquor. His search may be endless.

 

The third, Biff Brannon, owns a local diner. He silently observes the movements and tussles of this small town from behind his counter. Recently a widower, he’s left to wonder what he’s doing with his life, even though his marriage was unhappy, and if there’s a life worth living anymore.

 

The fourth is Dr. Benedict Mady Copeland, the only Black physician in town. Apropos to America’s historical and current grapples with race and violence, his tale is punctuated by hostile interactions with white law-keepers. However, what haunts Dr. Copeland most is the inability of his Black neighbors and family to unite with him and stand against bigotry. Well-read, philosophical, and radical, he is singular, and lonely for it.

 

Our fifth character is the linchpin that might quilt our motley crew of dreamers together. John Singer is a deaf and mute man. Each of the other four thinks of Singer as the only person who understands their hearts, their desires, and their loneliness. They meet him and find that he is the most sympathetic human to live. None realizes that Singer can't sympathize with them as much as they believe; he can't read their lips quickly enough, and besides, he has his own struggles and desires, and is physically unable to communicate these to his frequent callers. The only thing to do, in his mind, is bring these four people together somehow.

 

One can name the structural forces pushing these people to the margins of society: race, class, ability, age, gender, education, and so on. Yet, these margins are solitary places where they gain a sharper understanding of the world's machinations than most people. So then, is there a deeper relation between them that binds them together but cleaves them from others? Some intellectual and emotional genealogy, invisible to us and them? Are these dreamers punished or rewarded for their courage?

 

This book has a tragic verisimilitude to our world, afflicted by an illusion of connectivity that only alienates us further. My words do it injustice.

— Holden



Product Details
ISBN: 9789869695817
ISBN-10: 9869695817
Publisher: Zi Yo Zhi Qiu/Tsai Fong Books
Publication Date: October 11th, 2018
Language: Chinese