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'Lonely Hunter' prompts best ever talk

'Lonely Hunter' prompts best ever talk

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Ellen Brown couldn't get "Eleanor Rigby" out of her head as she read Carson McCullers' "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," The Roanoke Times Book Club's February selection.

The Beatles song about loneliness paralleled the brokenness of the novel's characters.

The Radford chapter met last week to discuss the circa-1940 story and its continued relevance in people's lives. "We had our best discussion ever, and we had a room full," reported librarian Diane Hollandsworth. "I had to keep going out for more chairs!"

The novel is a sad, sad story about four marginalized misfits, each obsessed with a vision of his or her place in the world. Three of the characters share their deepest secrets with the fourth, a deaf-mute named Singer, a kind of Christ-like character who cares for and calms the others.

The discussion group addressed the importance of music, faith and isolation in the book. "We talked at first about the book being so autobiographical and sad like Carson McCullers' life," Hollandsworth said. "We felt that [the character] Mick definitely represented her, with her love of music, and Mick's inability to make the violin paralleled McCullers' own frustrations with not going to Juilliard."

For the full description of Radford's meeting, please see our Web site at roanoke.com/bookclub. And while you're there, tell us what you thought of the book. (You can also e-mail me your musings at beth.macy@roanoke.com.)

The Roanoke meeting, at 7 p.m. Feb. 22 at the downtown Roanoke library, is so full that we too will have to bring in extra chairs. If you'd still like to participate in a gathering, call the Salem library chapter (375-3089 to register for its 7 p.m. meeting on Feb. 24.

- Beth Macy

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