March 09, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

Carson McCullers: A Life

Current Status
In Season
We gave it a B+

Only 23 when her 1940 debut, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, was proclaimed a masterpiece, Carson McCullers so infuriated her literary peers that upon her death in 1967, many moved to ”minimize or obscure her writing,” charges her impassioned new biographer. Vilified for her alcoholism, early success, rumored lesbian affairs, and even the suicide of her handsome Army officer husband, the Columbus, Ga., native also lived with numerous debilitating illnesses while managing to write several books. Though sometimes assuming the earnestly subjective tone of one friend defending another against unfair gossip, Le Monde journalist Savigneau convincingly portrays McCullers as a brilliant American outsider who would have been right at home in one of her own novels. B+

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