Illumination and Night Glare: The Unfinished Autobiography of Carson McCullers (2002)
By Carson McCullers
Edited by Carlos L. Dews
McCullers—one of the most gifted writers of her generation—died of a stroke at the age of 50 before finishing this, her last manuscript. Editor Carlos L. Dews has faithfully brought her story back to life, complete with never-before-published letters between McCullers and her husband Reeves, and an outline of her most famous novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.
Looking back over her life from a precocious childhood in Georgia to her painful decline from a series of crippling strokes, McCullers offers poignant and unabashed remembrances of her early writing success, her family attachments, a troubled marriage to a failed writer, friendships with literary and film luminaries (Gypsy Rose Lee, Richard Wright, Isak Dinesen, John Huston, Marilyn Monroe), and her intense relationships with the important women in her life. When the author was interviewed by Rex Reed on her final birthday, McCullers revealed her reason for writing an autobiography:
"I think it is important for future generations of students to know why I did certain things, but it is also important for myself. I became an established literary figure overnight, and I was much too young to understand what happened to me, or the responsibility it entailed. I was a bit of a holy terror. That, combined with all my illnesses, nearly destroyed me. Perhaps if I trace and preserve for other generations the effect this success had on me it will affect future artists to accept it better."