O'Connor's theme is the warpedness that resides deep in the human heart. They are often nice people who are nice to everyone (within reasonable limits, of course) and think that the world would be a nicer place to live if only everyone were as nice as they are (Good Country People, Everything that Rises Must Converge). Then there are the educated or artistic types who feel confined or bored by the life they lead, can't wait to escape, and sneer at all the inferior mortals around them (Good Country People, The Enduring Chill).
Flannery O'Connor's literary world is beyond bleak, to the point where if one of her characters smiles, you notice with a breath of relief, ahhhh, a tiny respite from the hard lives and harder hearts on display here. Most of her stories take place in bedraggled farms in the American South, with tough characters who often possess ironic names (Mrs. Cope can't cope, Sheppard can't lead anyone, Shiftlet is definitely shifty, Crater is a void, Pointer is a cruel phallus, etc). After you've read a few of her stories, you will notice a pattern. That probably means I should stay clear of Wise Blood, because these stories eventually became part of this novel. However, there is so much gold here, it is easy to let go of what doesn't impress and stay with the sparkling jewels such as: The Geranium - an old Southern man's inability to adjust to life in NYC (later re-written as Judgment Day, her last story) The Barber - a fascinating image of "casting pearls to swine", showing the insecure need to change people's minds to match one's own, and the ineffectuality of intellectual arguments A Good Man is Hard to Find - her most famous story, when a family trip is savaged while making a stop to visit an old plantation property. A Circle in the Fire - a woman who runs a farm is visited by some boys, who torment her, instil fear and menace, and demonstrate that she is NOT in charge The Displaced Person - a story of tremendous power about a woman who takes in a Polish DP to work on her farm. Greenleaf - another woman on a farm (pretty much everyone in O'Connor's stories are widows or widowers, and there's almost always a red-headed person in each story) has to deal with an errant bull on her property, with deathly consequences Everything that Rises Must Converge - brilliant tale of moral ambiguity, taking place on an integrated bus ride Her disturbing, damning stories will linger in my mind.
In February 1948, Flannery O'Connor, a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Iowa, was twenty-three years old and eager to please the publishing industry with the beginning chapters of a novel-in-progress titled Wise Blood. The letter is addressed to a slightly dim-witted Campfire Girl, and I cannot look forward with composure to a lifetime of others like them." Unconventional in dazzling ways, I felt that O'Connor struggled a bit to sustain Wise Blood around one character. Her morbid wit, fascination with God's lonely man and fearless search for truth in a society coming apart with change are perfectly suited for the short story format. Four of the stories -- The Train, The Peeler, The Heart of the Park and Enoch and the Gorilla -- were revised by O'Connor and became chapters of Wise Blood. The Displaced Person in which a Polish refugee and his family are given the chance to start a new life in America working on a farm, but quietly plague the good country people with their work ethic, disquiet and alien ways. It seemed to Mrs. Hopewell that every year she grew less like other people and more like herself--bloated, rude and squint-eyed." A common element in O'Connor's fiction is the progressive grown child -- the "Meathead" whom Archie Bunker was heckling on All In the Family the year this collection was published -- attempting to separate himself or herself from the hypocrisy of the mother, loving, but clueless as to what she represents to her children. Liberals can believe O'Connor is attacking the good ole boy network, while the Archie Bunkers could actually view these stories as a rebuke of the Meatheads, coming from one of their own, a writer reared in Savannah, GA.
A Stroke of Good Fortune. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories has the other four. Neither one would have done as much good in my estimation as the works in toto. Flannery O'Connor was an author whose name seeped into my bones until there was nothing left but to read her. One class assigned me the solo 'A Good Man is Hard to Find' and left me baffled. Fortunately, I am all too well acquainted with the tightwire between "I am a good person," and "I see me when I'm sleeping, . I know when I'm awake," to the point of nauseated pain, enough to see what she seeks to show in other things beyond the scope of religion and belief.
Except for one here or there in anthologies, this is my first time reading her short stories and I can't believe it took me this long to get to her. This time I decided to read one per night of the last 16 stories until I finished.
And bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who, like herself and Claud, had always had a little of everything and the God-given wit to use it right. The world is split in two parts There are those who try to use the others and there are those who are just being used A body and a spirit, he repeated. He didnt like anything.
Enoch Emery had tried to latch on to Hazel (Weaver this time) in the last story and when Hazel goes looking for him hoping to find out where the blind man livesso he can hear more about JesusEnoch capitalizes on the opportunity to share with someone special. A- Enoch and the Gorilla is the perfect conclusion to the stories about the misfit Enoch who is so out of step in the world he doesnt even know how much he is despised by everyone. B+ In A Stroke of Good Fortune Ruby is disgusted with her brother Rufus because after two years military service he hasnt learned to be somebody from somewhere. B+ A Good Man is Hard to Find is probably the most perfect short story ever written and certainly OConnors best, and best known. In The Life You Save May Be Your Own, the two main characters are so focused on protecting their own interests they dont see how they are being scammed and taken in by each other. In this day in the life of Harry he learns that he counts although the precise meaning of this is never explained and he doesnt know what to do with the information. How place and pace are finally found and resolved is the stuff of this, one of the longest and best, of OConnors short stories. The unnamed child in OConnors story relishes this understanding of herself and experiences an opportunity to apply it to one of the least in the Kingdom. The story itself concerns a grandfather and grandson, coming to the big city, setting an old misconception straightwell actually more than oneand in the process re-encountering the oldest sin in the world, that of our first parents. Fourteen year old Francis Tarwater had one task to perform for his uncle who raised him and wanted to leave everything to him. She does this in a number of her stories including, The Life You Save May Be Your Own, A View of the Woods, and Good Country People, but she is at her best here in Greenleaf. The deluded Mrs. May sees herself as the victim of her own employee, Mr. Greenleaf, his family, her own sons, and even a bull which keeps wandering where it shouldnt. A Old Man Fortune lives with his daughter, son-in-law, Pitts, and their children but his real joys are his one granddaughter, Mary Fortune and using her to get back at her parents especially her father. Indeed, The Enduring Chill, as title is also the temperature the main character, Asbury, carries with him wherever he goes. Thirty-five year old Thomass home has been invaded by someone his mother feels sorry for, obliged to help. A Everything that Rises Must Converge recounts an evening involving the painstaking departure and bus ride of an adult son, Julian, and mother. B+ In The Lame Shall Enter First, fourteen year old Rufus Johnson was being raised by an abusive grandfather in a shack without water or electricity. Sheppard, atheist, widower and father of ten year old Norton, volunteered at the reformatory as a counselor on week-ends. A Mrs. Turpins self-satisfaction meets an angry girl, Mary Grace, in Revelation. While we grow more alert to Mary Graces disgust with Mrs. Turpin, she is oblivious to it, until it manifests itself. His inability to break free from, or admit to, his first real love for a woman, who also happens to be his indifferent wife, combined with a profound experience set up a catharsis for Parker which bring both meanings of the word together in a poignant ending. The names are different but again an elderly father has come to live with his adult daughter in New York. We take up the story as he is planning his escape, learning past details through flashbacks. Excellent on its own, quite apart from The Geranium, taken together the stories form perfect book-ends to this splendid collection!
I wish I could write much better reviews my friends!! Because Flannery O'Connor and his short-stories collection deserved it indeed very much.. Although she wrote two novels, she is best known for her short-stories collections.. O'Connors writing is richly saturated with magic, and his stories have such an irresistible and compelling magnetic intensity that I was hooked from the first page on!!
I can't imagine what it would have been like to live inside Mary Flannery O'Connor's head, obviously. Children like evil spirits that descend on the sanctimonious. Walter in Why Do The Heathen Rage?: "Her son. His eyes and his skull and his smile belonged to the family face but underneath them was a different kind of man from any she had ever known. Those who have not changed a thing, those who live and work in the culture they have always known, they are the ones who can move, who have some get. Religion in Flannery O'Connor's world is not a comfort that solaces the distressed, but rather a challenge to the weak, a force that dismays, a rage that cannot be quiet. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
La vita che salvi Non si può fuggire alla capacità dei racconti della O'Connor di cambiarti in profondità nel corso di pochi minuti, dentro a quel labirinto eterno e ineffabile di significati implacabili e di fatti primordiali, affilati come lame di pugnali, letali come il veleno di un serpente.
OConnor was educated at the Georgia State College for Women, studied writing at the Iowa Writers Workshop, and wrote much of Wise Blood at the Yaddo artists colony in upstate New York.