Happy Birthday, Carson McCullers
Today is the birthday of Carson McCullers, who is one of our all-time super-fave-ever writers. Actually, Carson MCullers is connected to the genesis of me and Ruby’s friendship. On a streetcar in New Orleans.
Here’s the story: I sat down next to this really interesting-looking red-haired girl–it was actually the only seat available, so that’s kismet. Lo and behold, the red-haired girl (Ruby) was reading The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers, a book I had finished reading only days before and was in love with. So I remarked on the book, and Ruby remarked back. We started talking, seemed to click (or she felt sorry for me, being new and friendless in New Orleans), and she invited me to hang out with her and her fiance (now her husband) and friends that night. The rest is history. Just think if Ruby hadn’t felt like reading on the streetcar? What if she had checked out a different book from the library? What if she’d forgotten the book at work? I probably wouldn’t have spoken to her (being naturally a little shy). We probably wouldn’t have become friends. The world is so coincidental, so interconnected with little gossamer strands.
Carson McCullers had a hard, kind-of sad life. She died at the age of 44 from alcoholism, and suffered a stroke at the age of 24. Her husband once asked her to participate in a double suicide with him, but she declined (thank goodness). He killed himself anyway, and she went on to write several more novels, including The Member of the Wedding. Her books are fantastic, filled with lyrical prose, and longing and wondering and all the stuff that people really do feel but seldom put into words or talk about with other people. If you’ve never read one of her books, I highly recommend that you do.
Here’s to you, Carson, wherever you are. And thank you!