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The Complete Works I have just finished the book unfortunately with a lot of effort, many years ago I had already read some of these stories and I liked them very much..I don t remember them being so gloomy, totally violent where men drown in their grief, totally enveloped in their circumstances of daily tragediesI have read many articles on Flannery O Connor, and I understand and I see the question God is for the violent too but in a Catholic perspective, here everything is hopeless, confused.the souls who speak in these stories remain until the end without the possibility of redemption, of mercy as if the condemnation of men and the judgment were placed and given before the return to the Creator.I m completely confused and I don t think I m prepared enough to understand what O Connor wants to tell us with these characters. Or did I overestimate her Ho appena terminato il libro purtroppo con molta fatica, secoli fa avevo gi letto alcuni di questi racconti e mi erano piaciuti molto..Non li ricordavo cos cupi, totalmente violenti dove gli uomini affogano nel loro dolore totalmente avviluppati dalle loro circostanze di tragedie quotidiane.Ho letto molti articoli su Flannery O Connor, e capisco e intravedo la questione Dio anche per i violenti ma in un ottica cattolica, qui tutto senza speranza, confuso le anime che parlano in questi racconti rimangono sino alla fine senza possibilit di redenzione, di misericordia..come se la condanna sull uomo e il suo giudizio venga posto e dato prima della risalita al Creatore.Sono assolutamente confusa e non mi ritengo purtroppo abbastanza preparata per capire ci che la O Connor vuole testimoniarci con questi personaggi. o sono solo io che l ho sovrastimata troppo Listen here, he hissed, I don t care if he s good or not He ain t rightA Stroke of Good Fortune The Life You Save May Be Your Own The River The Displaced Person A View of the Woods The Lame Shall Enter First Two of these are contained within Everything That Rises Must Converge 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 Key word my.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 A television show favored for its artistic atrocity and psychological vivisection featured the former andas a psychology professor, turned FBI consultant, read to a comatose girl, potential serial killer Godwin s Law turned O Connor s Law whenever short stories were the question, a probability instantaneously one if favorites were asked for The final blow was the every so often descriptor of Catholic zealot , a religion whose childhood indoctrination may have fed my enthusiasm for theology but did nothing faith wiseYou won t be the same again, the preacher said You ll countI acquired this book with the personal penchant of Go Big or Go Home in mind, eyed it back whenever I felt it eyeing me, and began Now at the end, older and wiser and a few Wiki articles smarter, I say that if O Connor s character are grotesque, I know an awful lot of grotesque people I say that the archaic definition of awe of dread, terror, is not nearly as archaic as some would believe and farhope I say that if I wanted to understand O Connor, I would have to understand the South, and to do that I would have to understand Catholicism, and to do that I would have to devote my life to literature in a muchconcentrated manner than I am want to seriously considerThe world was made for the dead Think of all the dead there are. Fortunately for O Connor, morality is an uncomfortable nitpick for and will be so for the rest of days Unfortunately for O Connor, I read her long after my phase of existential grasping had faded to musing embers and the chance of conversion was ripe for the rotting 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 Unfortunately, I am neither in love enough with her particular disturbation to seek her out before the very far future has come my way, nor am I certain that my positive judgment of her work hinges but a little on the whiteness of my skin Conflict, conflict Whether good or ill for her, she will long be kept as a subject of contemplation She was sorry that the poor man had been chased out of Poland and run across Europe and had had to take up in a tenant shack in a strange country, but she had not been responsible for any of it he had probably not had to struggle enough. There s something ugly but true in all of her works, a vein that would do well to acquire a name deeper than the common hypocrisy when realization of such often demands the death of the realizer, if notAll for the reader s benefit, of course, the implication of woe to those who refuse to heed thrown in free with sardonic glee Not horror, but Old Testament Not raison d tre, but your godforsaken soulOh, I see, the stranger said It ain t the Day of Judgment for him you re worried about, it s the Day of Judgment for youI may not be Catholic, but that is not an anything butshe might experience a painful realization and this would be the only thing of value he had to leave her. En Este Volumen Se Re Nen Todos Los Relatos De Flannery O Connor, Tanto Los Que Public En Vida Como Los Que Dej In Ditos, Muchos De Los Cuales Nunca Se Hab An Traducido Al CastellanoEl Genio L Cido, Doloroso Y Atormentado De Flannery O Connor Alcanza Sus M S Altas Cimas En El Cuento, G Nero Que Cultiv Ininterrumpidamente Desde Sus A Os De Estudiante Hasta Su Prematura Y Tr Gica MuerteLas Historias De Este Libro Hiriente Y Sobrecogedor Tienen Como Escenario Los Pueblos Y Las Tierras Del Sur De Estados Unidos, Especialmente Su Georgia Natal, Un Mundo Decr Pito Y En Ruinas Cuyo Secular Abandono Y Pobreza Ancestral Aparecen Marcados Por La Violencia Y El Odio Pero, M S All De La Sordidez, Los Conflictos Raciales, El Asfixiante Peso De La Religi N Y La Frustrada Lucha Por La Libertad, Hay Siempre En Los Cuentos De Flannery O Connor Una Extra A Belleza, Una Ntima Exposici N Moral De La Condici N Humana Que Trasciende La An CdotaComparada A Menudo Con William Faulkner O Carson McCullers, Con Quienes Forj Lo Que Se Ha Llamado El G Tico Sure O , Flannery O Connor Es Una De Las Narradoras Imprescindibles De La Literatura Norteamericana Del Siglo XXContents El Geranio El Barbero El Lince La Cosecha El Pavo El Tren El Pelapatatas El Corazo N Del Parque Un Golpe De Buena Suerte Enoch Y El Gorila Un Hombre Bueno Es Difi Cil De Encontrar Un Encuentro Tardi O Con El Enemigo La Vida Que Salve Is Puede Ser La Vuestra El Ri O Un Ci Rculo En El Fuego La Persona Desplazada El Templo Del Espi Ritu Santo El Negro Artificial La Buena Gente Del Campo Ma S Pobre Que Un Muerto, Imposible Greenleaf Una Visita Del Bosque El Escalofri O Interminable Las Dulzuras Del Hogar Todo Lo Que Asciende Tiene Que Converger Partridge En Fiestas Los Lisiados Sera N Los Primeros Por Que Se Amotinan Las Gentes Revelacio N La Espalda De Parker El Di A Del Juicio Final 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 A letter O Connor received from one such publisher was not receptive He commended her for being a straight shooter and added that she was gifted, but with a loneliness in her work, as if she were writing simply out of her own experience O Connor responded to a friend Please tell me what is behind this Sears Roebuck Straight Shooter approach I presume either that the publisher will not take the novel as it will be left to my fiendish care it will essentially be as it is , or that the publisher would like to rescue it at this point and train it into a conventional novel 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 The Complete Stories, published posthumously in 1971, contains thirty one tales, eachpowerful and haunting than the last As a sum of its parts, it s one of my favorite books.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 They re prelude to at least six stories that grabbed me and threw me across the room A Good Man Is Hard To Find in which a grandmother s insistence on visiting a plantation from her youth, while on a road trip with her son, daughter in law and three grandchildren puts them on a collision course with an escaped fugitive dubbed The Misfit A Circle in the Fire in which a nervous farm widow is visited by a teenaged boy who once lived on her land and returns with two friends from the city The dangerous boys love the country so much that they refuse to leave without taking some of it with them 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 Greenleaf in which a proud farm widow, with two grown sons averse to manual labor, is bedeviled by the appearance of a stray bull on her property, a beast she determines belongs to the sons of her belligerent farm hand, Mr Greenleaf Everything That Rises Must Converge in which a progressive minded man disgusted by bigoted ways of his mother agrees to accompany her on an errand, using a desegregated night bus in an attempt to prove a point to the old bat The lesson ends up becoming his The Lame Shall Enter First in which a widowed recreational director who s given up hope his son will contribute anything positive to society offers room and board and a second chance to a juvenile delinquent with a 140 IQ and club foot, so full of potential the man can t resist saving him.O Connor s characters have holes they re struggling to fill with education, progressive ideals, charity, Jesus Christ but they end up digging themselves even deeper holes These are haunted people and several of these tales were eerie enough to keep me awake at night O Connor doesn t go for ghosts or goblins, but her characters are visited by their share of demons The tension in O Connor s storytelling is softened by her dark wit and powerful observation Her character descriptions often set the table in a household Charles Addams would feel at home inThe doctors had told Mrs Hopewell that with the best of care, Joy might see forty five She had a weak heart Joy had made it plain that if it had not been for this condition, she would be far from these red hills and good country people She would be in a university lecturing to people who knew what she was talking about And Mrs Hopewell could very well picture her there, looking like a scarecrow and lecturing toof the same Here she went about all day in a six year old skirt and a yellow sweat shirt with a faded cowboy on a horse embossed on it She thought this was funny Mrs Hopewell thought it was idiotic and simply showed that she was still a child She was brilliant but she didn t have a grain of sense It seemed to Mrs Hopewell that every year she grew less like other people andlike 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 Part of the genius of these stories, apart from how taut they are with tension, is how O Connor refuses to pass judgment on either side of the culture war 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 I think the truth is a lotcomplicated than either position and is explored beautifully in this book. Since I won t be reading this collection straight through, I figured I d rate the first 15 stories that I have read 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 They are amazingly good April 29, 2009 April 3, 2016Now I can t believe it took me seven years to get back to this volume, except for recognizing that O Connor s unflinching worldview isn t always a lure and, of course, the main excuse of other books clamoring for attention I find it appropriate, even though it was unintentional, that both times I read it around Easter This time I decided to read one per night of the last 16 stories until I finished That worked well, giving me time to digest each, but not too much time in between that I didn t recognize similar tropes for example, colorful tree lines with colorless skies above them It s impossible to miss, no matter how much time passes, the recurring themes Pride as the ultimate Destroyer Saving Grace arriving from frightening, unexpected places.Whether you agree or disagree with O Connor s worldview, there s no denying the power of her writing Her craft is impeccable Her vision is inexorable. Strange may it seem but I ve never read anything about Flannery O Connor and I didn t know what I should expect so the book was like a lightning strike She saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire Upon it a vast horde of souls were rumbling toward heaven There were whole companies of whitetrash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black niggers in white robes, and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs 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 The body, lady, is like a house it don t go anywhere but the spirit, lady, is like a automobile always on the move, always The majority is swarming and conforming they are the people of the crowd, the cattle of the herd Meanness is their weapon and ignorance is their creed Why listen, lady, he said with a grin of delight, the monks of old slept in their coffins They wasn t as advanced as we are, the old woman said The minority consists of dreamers they want to change the world, they want to fight the system, they pretend that meanness is elsewhere But they are clueless, they cut a ludicrous figure and whatever they do they fail He didn t like anything He drove twenty miles every day to the university where he taught and twenty miles back every night, but he said he hated the twenty mile drive and he hated the second rate university and he hated the morons who attended it He hated the country and he hated the life he lived he hated living with his mother and his idiot brother and he hated hearing about the damn dairy and the damn help and the damn broken machinery But in spite of all he said, he never made any move to leave Majority is never right but majority ever wins. The Complete Works The complete stories, Flannery O ConnorThe Complete Stories is a collection of short stories by Flannery O Connor It was published in 1971 It comprises all the stories in A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Everything That Rises Must Converge plus several previously unavailable stories.Contents The GeraniumThe BarberWildcatThe CropThe TurkeyThe TrainThe PeelerThe Heart of the ParkA Stroke of Good FortuneEnoch and the GorillaA Good Man Is Hard to FindA Late Encounter with the EnemyThe Life You Save May Be Your OwnThe RiverA Circle in the FireThe Displaced PersonA Temple of the Holy GhostThe Artificial NiggerGood Country PeopleYou Can t Be Any Poorer Than DeadGreenleafA View of the WoodsThe Enduring ChillThe Comforts of HomeEverything That Rises Must ConvergeThe Partridge FestivalThe Lame Shall Enter FirstWhy Do the Heathen Rage RevelationParker s BackJudgment Day 2018 1392 696 9786006605265 1393 1394 1396 895 9786003840140 20 In The Geranium, Old Dudley is the proverbial fish out of water, overwhelmed by his environment, regretting his choice to trade familiar small town for a chance to see the Big Apple To escape the constant onslaught on his senses, he s fixated on the daily regimen of a neighbor s geranium, the closest thing to nature, i.e., back home he s found But in a twist comparable to the best of O Henry, Dudley s prejudice is revealed by unwelcome kindness from an enemy and animosity comes to him from an equally improbable source AWhat is the saying A fool convinced against his will is of the same opinion still The Barber is the early 20th Century version of why you shouldn t bother entering into arguments on the Internet Back then everything you ever needed or wanted to know could be learned at the Barber Shop A frustrating but wise read B In The Crop, 44 year old Miss Willerton, spinster story writer escapes the humdrum reality of her life as many unhappy women do by fantasizing herself femme fatale, leading lady, of her own imaginary romances In this case we re given a glimpse of her co stars Charming A Who is The Turkey Is it Ruller or what Ruller finds On the cusp of emerging manhood, Ruller experiments with rebelling against his parent s especially his mother s rules concerning the name of the LORD and how to address the Almighty What difference does it make if there is no one else to hear or see A tale of two shot courage one shot you see and one you don t A In The Train, 19 year old Hazel Wickers ne Motes Weaver journeys by train to Taulkinham We are taken along with him wandering insecure and confused with flashes of extreme certainty finding what We watch the world go by as if we were the ones on a train A runaway ride of confusing thoughts This is the first of the four stories which O Connor later revised into her novel Wise Blood BIn The Peeler, Hazel Motes is walking the streets of Taulkinham, where he meets Enoch Emery, Asa Shrike, who is blind and a girl, Sabbath, traveling with him Although physically blind, Asa seesthan anyone else, discerns the truth and speaks toeffect than the other three main charactersYou can t run from Jesus Jesus is a fact If who you are a looking for is Jesus, the sound of it will be in your voiceAThe Heart of the Park continues The Peeler and is the third in the series involving at least some of the same characters 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 lives so he can hearabout Jesus Enoch capitalizes on the opportunity to share with someone special The two young men are abominable to each other, yet in their near total ignorance, they are as much pitiable as they are abhorrent 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 doesn t even know how much he is despised by everyone It seems like every once in a while Enoch ought to accidentally meet a nice person or someone who likes him They can t be all beastly or can they B In A Stroke of Good Fortune Ruby is disgusted with her brother Rufus because after two years military service he hasn t learned to be somebody from somewhere She s the only one from her family to have escaped their now defunct town of Pitman by marrying Bill Hill from Florida who sells Miracle Products And yet after all that climbing, why can t she even go up her own stairs B A Good Man is Hard to Find is probably the most perfect short story ever written and certainly O Connor s best, and best known Dysfunctional family on a road trip ends up stranded in the middle of nowhere they encounter their worst nightmare The goodness in the men and the women in all of us is hard to find Superb dialogue at the end between The Misfit and the Grandmother A In A Late Encounter with the Enemy, 62 year old Sally Poker Sash s nightly prayer is that her 104 year old grandfather, General Sash will live long enough to see her graduate from college, never mind that he doesn t know what is what any A battle on many fronts, this must be read up til the last sentence Another one where O Connor gives us an inside view A One armed Mr Shiftlet appears one day full of compliments and trivia at Lucynell Crater s place The two share much banter but little real conversation and no trust In The Life You Save May Be Your Own, the two main characters are so focused on protecting their own interests they don t see how they are being scammed and taken in by each other B In The River, Childhood is personified as little Harry Bevel He is the plaything of thoughtless and foolish adults who use him for their own selfish ends In this day in the life of Harry he learns that he counts although the precise meaning of this is never explained and he doesn t know what to do with the information A heart wrenching expos A Mrs Cope in A Circle in the Fire had no sympathy for anyone else s troubles There was always plenty to be thankful for, no matter what bad happens because it doesn t all come at once and of course it didn t happen to her But that philosophy and her worst fear get put to the test when three juvenile delinquents show up at her farm one day and refuse to leave BThe Displaced Person should be the displaced person s and yet it also works in the singular It is about an entire family of Polish immigrants exiled from their homeland due towhat was happening every day in Europe where they had not advanced as in this countryThe Guizacs arrival at Mrs McIntyre s farm upsets the delicate balance and pacing of work Mr Guizac s enthusiasm and work ethic aren t appreciated by all How place and pace are finally found and resolved is the stuff of this, one of the longest and best, of O Connor s short stories Superb A A Temple of the Holy Ghost refers to the definition of the person given in 1 Corinthians 6 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God The unnamed child in O Connor s story relishes this understanding of herself and experiences an opportunity to apply it to one of the least in the Kingdom AThe Artificial Nigger is an unfortunate title How so Well for starters it refers to a plaster lawn statue the characters happened upon in a wealthy neighborhood So O Connor is not using the pejorative N word in any way critical of African Americans Rather she is ridiculing the snobbish insensitive pride of wealthy whites who have too much money and no compassion or taste So much for the title The story itself concerns a grandfather and grandson, coming to the big city, setting an old misconception straight well actuallythan one and in the process re encountering the oldest sin in the world, that of our first parents Powerful tale of forgiveness and redemption A In Good Country People Joy doesn t want to be either Joy or Good Country People Since she blames her mother for an accident which has left her with a handicap, she uses this as justification to adopt a sour attitude to life Even , she had her name legally changed to Hulga because it was the ugliest name she could think of One day in a moment of poetic justice, Joy Hulga gets a little of her own unpleasantness B You Can t Be Any Poorer Than Dead means of course that you can There is economic poverty and spiritual poverty, and not what Jesus meant when He was talking about being poor in spirit Rather, being poor of spirit Fourteen year old Francis Tarwater had one task to perform for his uncle who raised him and wanted to leave everything to him If Francis couldn t even do that one simple assignment, who was actually the poorer man A O Connor likes to explore the themes of blind envy and a taut battle of the wills 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 shouldn t Her determination to prove her point does in fact bring it home for her AOld 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 Mary is the only one in the family he respects because he sees himself in her physically as well as temperamentally In A View of the Woods Mr Fortune decides on a business transaction with a view to irritate his son in law but doesn t figure on its wider impact AAsbury went to New York to escape the slave s atmosphere of home and returned broken, sick, dying Whatever his doting mother offers to do for him or suggests he do is met with his usual cold, unreceptive reaction Indeed, The Enduring Chill, as title is also the temperature the main character, Asbury, carries with him wherever he goes So now the question becomes, how long can this enduring last AThe Comforts of Home is neither comfortable nor homey Thirty five year old Thomas s home has been invaded by someone his mother feels sorry for, obliged to help Sarah Ham AKA Star Drake , a self proclaimed nymphomaniac, multi failed suicide, congenital liar and parolee has taken up residence Things go from bad to worse, until AEverything that Rises Must Converge recounts an evening involving the painstaking departure and bus ride of an adult son, Julian, and mother Julian is accompanying his mother to her Wednesday night reducing class It s a lifetime s worth of small talk compressed into a few tense and unforgettable hours A It s the annual Azalea Festival in the small town of Partridge and everyone s caught up in the spirit of the occasion In The Partridge Festival, Calhoun and Mary Elizabeth are two young people bucking popular opinion, the system if you will They don t believe in all this nonsense, especially not the consensus that a recent murder was committed by a madman Surely he must have been fed up as they are with all this flower foolishness He must have had enough and just couldn t take it any So they set out to find and visit Singleton in prison 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 His father was dead and his mother was in the state penitentiary He was mean, had a club foot, ate out of the garbage, and believed passionately in Jesus, the devil and everything in the Bible Sheppard, atheist, widower and father of ten year old Norton, volunteered at the reformatory as a counselor on week ends Sheppard had taken on Rufus because he believed he was the boy s savior Rufus saw right through Sheppard but it took the man longer to realize this, and muchimportant things A Mrs Turpin s self satisfaction meets an angry girl, Mary Grace, in Revelation Both are among the colorful characters inhabiting a doctor s waiting room which seems to grow smaller as the personalities emerge larger While we growalert to Mary Grace s disgust with Mrs Turpin, she is oblivious to it, until it manifests itself Mary s Grace, or gift if you prefer is an eye opening opportunity for Mrs Turpin A Parker s Back is a play on the ambiguity created by the dual meaning of the word back Initially it seems that it refers to some return of the central character, O E Parker But very quickly we realize Parker has tattooed almost every inch of his body except his back 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 A Judgement Day is a reworking or refinement of O Connor s first piece in this collection, The Geranium The names are different but again an elderly father has come to live with his adult daughter in New York Although he bitterly regrets his decision, he is resigned to it until he discovers his daughter is planning to renege on her promise to have him buried back down in Georgia 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 A Although her stories were inspired and immortal from the beginning, there is no doubt O Connor improved as she got older.Updated for grammatical errors October 26, 2017 I feel like I ve just been to school That s a good thing I read each of these 31 stories a compilation of both A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories and Everything That Rises Must Converge Stories, as well as 12 other stories, 6 of which made up her master s thesis at the University of Iowa slowly, only a few a day I took notes as I was going and read as much analysis as I could on each story What an experience, to immerse myself in this author s life work.It s a dark place to be, though I ve always liked dark 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 The sky and the sun and of course peacocks get all sorts of glorious description in these stories But the PEOPLE the people are hopeless and selfish, grappling for control of their meagre lives on a slippery surface that affords no purchase.Flannery O Connor s name goes hand in hand with Southern gothic , though she used Christian realism to describe the toughness of her stories In my opinion, both apply to her work 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 The lessons are told using allegory dotted with symbolism After you ve read a few of her stories, you will notice a pattern Despite the dank darkness of the lives she adorns her characters with, there is always an opportunity for grace, the chance to choose right If they do not choose correctly, woe betide them, for all sorts of terrible punishments are ahead, in the form of death and loss and isolation.Even though I recognised this pattern like a beacon, I couldn t help but sympathise and identify with the characters who were on their road to ruin I mean, who wouldn t be annoyed if someone else s bull was loose in your farm, wrecking everything That, I believe, is where much of O Connor s power lies The villains in her stories are us, everyday people, who are snared in our humanity, our time, our weaknesses It is we who struggle every day at achieving grace And that is what pierces the heart of anyone who reads these stories.She addresses racism many, many times over which sadly, still remains a timely issue And she has a hard eye for intellectuals none of them know nearly as much as they think they know.The collection was a little uneven for me The Train, The Peeler and any others featuring Hazel and Enoch did not interest me much That probably means I should stay clear of Wise Blood, because these stories eventually became part of this novel Also You Can t Be Any Poorer than Dead which eventually became part of The Violent Bear It Away, and Why Do the Heathen Ragewhich was meant to be part of a future novel neither worked for me as short stories.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 Punishment for glorifying an imperfect past is doled out, for thinking in terms of them and us Begs the question, what makes a person good 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 His efficiency does not sit well with the rest of the farm, and what ensues in a sick, slow build up, made me gasp 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 rideHer disturbing, damning stories will linger in my mind These stories continue to exert their power, a pointing finger, a morally all seeing eye that cuts and exposes without mercy Wow. Flannery O Connor is a Wall And she s each Brick in that Wall hard edged uncompromising and made out of unyielding, obdurate Faith.She s not a Nice Writer.Nor is she trying to be Cause she s trying to give us the Straight Goods.And yes, we all have plenty of goods in our lives nice things to eat and drink in the fridge, nice gadgets to carry around with us everywhere, nice books, nice friends, and plenty of nice diversions.But life s not nice, she says And after life comes Death And many, many people are Living their Deaths right here and now.She just gives us the facts.Especially about the countless moaning, mourning men and women who have fallen beneath the Iron Wheel of Karma RIGHT HERE AMONG US And of the Countless Many who will follow.They fill our own inner cities They fill our Third World And their desperate emptiness also haunts the souls of our kids.Why She never tells you up front, but if you know her background you ll know why Her stories scream the answer silently We ve forgotten God.And the Spirit has packed up and left our cities.And our Souls.Now, these are major, major personal allegations, but in her writing it s all silently sous entendu So it won t hurt you if you don t want it to.For all she gives you are the facts about US Cause no, it s NOT about poor sharecroppers and inner city dwellers in the faraway Fifties but you can form your own impressions.But even without such antiquated views about perdition as she held, to me it s about US Us without all our diversions.So now you don t have to squirm under the intense pressure of all these perfect horrors, tightly packed and sealed into each miniature masterpiece of a messy, mundane tale depicting our grossly flawed lives.If you don t want to hazard the risk For the warning stands primarily for the sensitive, even though modern interpreters now call the viewpoint archaic and draconian anyway Since it may confuse you, I leave that to your discretion.And, as well, she always mitigates it all with her clear eyed objective lens So you can judge her objectively according to your own worldview And you ll be safe Or, if your POV is stoutly agnostic, and empathy is not a part of your personality, you re in the clear too.But if you re like me and you go with the flow of your books empathetically cave libris For new age Jeremiah that she is, she has served us notice.Wake up or fall Beneath the Wheel

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