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Carson McCullers was an American novelist who was born in Georgia in 1917 and died in New York in 1967. Her work is often described as Southern Gothic and many of her stories have been adapted for stage and screen. She suffered ill health throughout her life, having contracted rheumatic fever at 15, which left her with heart disease. She died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 50.
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Ted:
I had previously read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter [ published 1940] by this American novelist which was a brilliant description of lonely outsiders in small town southern USA. 
The first time I read The Ballad of the Sad Café, which is a novella, I found the main characters weird and unlikable: from the mannish, monosyllabic Miss Amelia, the mysterious dwarfish hunchback Cousin Lymon to the repellent, criminal, ex-husband Marvin Marcy. In the second reading it was easier to suspend realism and see the story as a parable which examines the relationship between the lover and the beloved. There is the triangular relationship between the main protagonists where Miss Amelia loves cousin Lymon who loves Marvin Macy, who used to love [but now hates] Miss Amelia. The story moves towards a classic battle between Miss Amelia and Macy for the dwarf and just as Miss Amelia is about to triumph Cousin Lymon leaps on her back like a small animal turning the tide in Macy’s favour. There follows the sudden departure of the hunchback and Macey which leaves Amelia heartbroken and leads to a breakdown of community life in the town. The concluding event which takes place three miles from the desolate town is the sombre and joyful singing of a chain-gang [The Twelve Mortal Men]. This unified group appears to be a metaphor for hope in all the despair.
Mc Culler’s stories are layered and the ending can be left uncertain; A Domestic Dilemma is the devastating description of alcoholism in a young wife and the impact on her family. Her husband’s dilemma is between doing the best thing for his two children and his remaining love for his beautiful wife. Whilst she slept he watched his wife for the last time….!
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