About a year ago I started walking. Leave the car somewhere and wander. Ramble. Meander. In warm weather. Cold. I simply walk. It’s helped to improve my Vitamin D levels, lose weight, stimulate my frontal lobe, and generally improve my disposition.
One of the things I do now is notice those historical markers planted in street easements. Some time ago – if I had to guess I’d say 1957 – the US government must have gifted bazillions of dollars to historical societies in towns across America to designate points of interest – historical, literary, and odd.
Yesterday, on a street I’ve walked many, many times, I noticed this one tucked in a hedge:
Carson McCullers? Carson McCullers? I reached back into the bits of the Norton Anthology still lodged in my brain. Confused her for a second with Willa Cather. Then realized I’ve got nothing. No recollection whatsoever of this genius who lived 10 minutes from my house and whose literary achievements warranted the erection of a substantial monument. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter sounds vaguely familiar but I believe I am confusing it with a Lifetime movie starring Stockard Channing.
I scuttled home and consulted my favorite reference these days, Pinterest, and found a pin from the board “Top 50 Female Authors”, with a photo of Ms. McCullers sitting on what looks suspiciously like her Nyack porch.
Each summer I adopt an author and try to read a few of their works and a bit of biographical information. It’s my literary version of a summer boyfriend. I had sort of committed to Philip Roth for 2014 but Portnoy’s Complaint will have to wait. It was the closing quote on the marker that sealed my decision: “They are the we of me.” It comes from The Member of the Wedding. Since I have no context, I assume it refers to friends who complete us. I’m off to my college reunion to spend a couple of lazy days enjoying my we’s. Maybe they’ll have relevant Carson McCullers fun facts to share. What I won’t do is mention my knowledge gap to my American Lit professor.