James Iha of The Smashing Pumpkins recommends
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers.
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter
This richly detailed work is set in the south and explores the lives of four lonely individuals who collect about a single deaf-mute with whom they share their deepest secrets.
"When she was only twenty-three this, Carson McCuller's first novel, created a literary sensation. She is very special, one of America's superlative writers who conjures up a vision of existence as terrible as it is real, who takes us on shattering voyages into the depths of the spiritual isolation that underlies the human condition.
This novel is the work of a supreme artist, Carson McCullers's enduring masterpiece. The heroine is the strange young teenager, Mick Kelly. The setting is a small Southern town, the cosmos universal and eternal. The characters are the damned, the voiceless, the rejected. Some fight their loneliness with violence and depravity, some with alcohol, and some -- like Mick -- with a quiet, intensely personal search for beauty." (1981 Bantam paperback.)
Singer, the deaf-mute, comes to symbolize the person whom all
human beings yearn for, someone who will listen, understand without
condemnation, to whom we can unburden our hearts of its deepest
fears and longings. There is no plot as such, but the characters
throb with life, and a deep sense of compassion and empathy for
the underprivileged and the social misfits shimmers throughout
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