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Posted August 17, 2010
Freakish characters who transform when they love but never get love back
Miss Amelia is a masculine acting weatlhy loner in a small town who knows only how to use people for a profit. until she falls for an unappealing stranger who comes to town and claims kinship. The deformed cousin Lymon, who is about two feet shorter than her (Huh?-) coughs, is scared of the night, chatters, stirs up quarrels and seems to develop an arrogant air of entitlement. Miss Amelia's love transforms her from her recluse stingy ways and she opens a Café at her General Store and years pass as she loves and favors Lymon. Told in flashback, we then see how Miss Amelia herself was the object of love, several years ago, by a Marvin Macy who himself had reformed his nefarious ways when he inexplicably falls for her. After only a ten day marriage, during which Miss Amelia refuses a normal marital physical relationship and kicks Macy out, Macy returns to crime. The story shifts back to the present and we see how Macy returns to the town with a vindictive attitude. Cousin Lymon develops obsessive love (What? Macy is insulting to Lymon!) Contemptuous onlookers in the small southern town enjoy gossip about the past/ present miseries. With their voices readers see how the "beloveds" exploit those who love. Miss Amelia and Macy have a fist fight and Lymon interferes so Macy can live. Then we flip to a sene about a chain gang of prisoners who work and sing cooperatively together. Wow! I get it, there is no requited love in this world, except for brotherly love and harmony and only when people are bound together in chains and have no choice.
Clearly author Carson McCullers really was a mixed up sort of gal. It is no surprise to read her personal history. If this is an example of the best of any genre, mankind is as troubled as the author apparently was. Why do school districts require this as reading? The constant references to Cousin Lymon's unfortunate deformity were unnecessary and insulting, since that same deformity is present in my own family history, but more importantly, it did not illustrate any great thoughts about anything. Perhaps this book fulfills a need to get reluctant students to write vividly about something. The "Ballad of Sad Café" a "classic", and movies and plays have been made about this grim story. The flawed exaggerated characters don't garner lasting interest and the plot is hugely implausible. Perhaps the book could evoke discussions of gender reversals in doomed multi-sexual love triangles. (a narrow draw!) 73 pages should go quickly, right? Not so. Read this story only if you must.
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