Book Corner 2020.39

The Member of the Wedding

Wow, this was even more amazing than I remembered. I think it had been over 20 years since I read it. I had read more recently HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER – and boy, I thought that I loved that; but I only loved one of the two plots of that story, whereas this was 100% amazing through and through.

I had to look up the year that child actress Anna Paquin starred in the TV movie version of this – 1997. I found that movie too literal, and Paquin cast too young; she was so small, and Frankie was supposed to be so tall. The scenes with the solder were VERY disturbing when played with such a small girl. That said, I’ll never forget her performance in the climactic scene.

I did not recall how close to the end of the book the wedding happened – i.e. how little “happened” afterward, or rather how crammed all the “after” was into so few pages, as was the wedding itself. Which is part of the writing’s power. I think McCullers is just amazing in how she brings her stories to a head, making the payoff as good as the journey, which is not a common thing in a modern novel. Usually you get a really good bunch of pages but summed up with kind of an anti-climax; or, you get a real whopper of a narrative arc and ending, but don’t enjoy the journey so much. MEMBER OF THE WEDDING is flawless – maybe being relatively short at only about 150 pages is a help. Modern novels probably just go on too long.

I won’t bother with much of a plot summary. Southern eccentricity, lots of mood and pictures of intimacy; 12-year-old Frankie spends the dog days of a deep-South summer in anticipation of her big brother’s wedding. She’s on the cusp of big change, and at times truly manic in her passions and her desire to quit town for good. There’s something very powerful in stories about girls this age that always draws me in. McCullers is the best.. (  )

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