Friday, February 03, 2006

Carson McCullers: Reflections in a Golden Eye

I just finished reading my first Carson McCullers novel: Reflections in a Golden Eye. I had never heard of her work before (which, of course, reveals how much I have yet to read). I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this slim little novel.

This is her first sentence: “An army post in peacetime is a dull place.” And then she goes on to disprove this very notion. True, the post is all about routine and drill. But she takes us into the homes of the officers and their wives and into one enlisted man’s head. The horrors are there just behind the picket fence and inside the otherwise stark barracks. The characters fall in love with the wrong people (most often ones to whom they are not married) and take out their inner angst with garden sheers used on their own nipples, in one ghastly example. Those Southerners. Cukoo. McCullers gives every single one of her characters a lobotomy.

The insanity and despair of the characters is made even more compelling by McCullers extremely tight prose style. The sentence structure and diction are militant—no lyrical episodes to take a trip into metaphysics or provide enough words for a soft landing. These characters are doomed to fit into their little sentences.

colorful vocabulary, phrases and some sentences too

the grassy surface of land

ordinary dress as distinguished from that denoting an occupation or station ; especially : civilian clothes when worn by a person in the armed forces

“He had a sad penchant for becoming enamored of his wife’s lovers.”

an untidy slovenly woman; also : SLUT, PROSTITUTE

fractious grace

termagant wife
an overbearing or nagging woman : SHREW

grim vivacity

playful repartee / banter

cerise curtains
a moderate red

merriest malice

one that serves to direct or guide / center of atrraction or attention

something showy, frivolous, or nonessential : LUXURY, TRIFLE

"The sun and firelight were bright in the room."

"Like all very stupid people she had a predilection for the gruesome, which she could indulge in or throw off at will."

"And having given up life, the Captain suddenly began to live."

arrogance, haughtiness

sluggish grace

repressed agitation

an awkward gawky youth

lazy tenderness

the lowest level of volition / a slight wish or tendency (inclination)

to make a moaning or sighing sound

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

May I suggest, "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by McCullers? It was my first (and as of yet only) experience with her work. It's worthy of a read.
Love your recent entries btw. Miss ya'!

T :)