My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A highly complex woman pared down

Book review: Jenn Shapland’s book is more about her own story rather than her subject’s

 Carson McCullers: Jenn Shapland’s book on the author is  a highly personalised treatise on identifying and explicitly naming lesbian culture. Photograph:  Leonard Mccombe/Time Life Pictures/Getty

Carson McCullers: Jenn Shapland’s book on the author is a highly personalised treatise on identifying and explicitly naming lesbian culture. Photograph: Leonard Mccombe/Time Life Pictures/Getty

The reader who knows little about Carson McCullers might easily assume that Jenn Shapland’s memoir is ground-breaking in exposing McCullers, once celebrated as the new Steinbeck, as a closet lesbian: “If Carson was a lesbian, and if her relationships bore that out, wouldn’t someone already have said so? Wouldn’t it be known beyond rumours in the queer community?”

Well, yes it would. And, indeed, it was and is.

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