I first read O'Connor in 1962, when my senior English teacher assigned one of her stories, "Good Country People." Even at 17 I had read a lot of good fiction, including many short stories, but I had never read anything quite like this odd tale. I ended up reading it at least four times in one evening, wondering why I was being asked to read about these strange, back woods Southerners who seemed so unlike any people I had ever known, certainly not at all like the people who lived in our suburban New York town. Believe me when I say that I had never encountered an evil, or even a good, door-to-door Bible salesman. No one like that ever came knocking in Larchmont. Neither had I ever come across an atheistic, one-legged woman with a PhD in philosophy who lived on her mother's farm. Gradually, though, as I re-read the story, I came to recognize bits and pieces of myself (and others) in each of the characters and began to understand that rural Georgia was merely the setting for a wonderful story about the reality of the human condition. I was hooked, and thus began my love affair with Flannery O'Connor and her work.
If you haven't read her, do so. She wrote 32 well-crafted short stories, each meant to be savored and slowly digested. Her two novels, too, are masterpieces. Here are some links:
The Complete Stories, by Flannery O'ConnorI've included the last, a collection of her letters, because it's by far the best and most interesting collection of letters I've ever read.
Wise Blood, a novel by Flannery O'Connor
The Violent Bear It Away, a novel by Flannary O'Connor
The Habit of Being, Letters of Flannery O'Connor
Dear Diane and I have made the pilgrimage to Andalusia, her home and family farm in Milledgeville, on several occasions and always enjoyed it. Here's a photo of the house in Milledgeville:
|Andalusia, the O'Connor home in Milledgeville|
|O'Connor's childhood home in Savannah|
Rest in Peace, Flannery.