Sunday, August 22, 2004

O'Flannery (a guest post by The Bookman)

Flannery O'Connor was 39 years old when she died in 1964. I was born in 1964 and I was 39 when Flannery was selected for our book group to read. I became a bit obsessed with reading her entire works before I turned 40. OK, I finished a few weeks late and the earth is still spinning, but I am so glad that I read her. Flannery O'Connor wrote dark and terrifyingly direct stories. Anyone who has read A Good Man Is Hard To Find will know how she will lead you along then, WHAM, a freight train of a surprise will leave you gasping for breath. I often found myself so very sad, not just for a certain character, but for Flannery herself. Those horrible (beautifully so) little tales must have come from some pretty real memories of the harsh, angry and racist south that she grew up in. Her brilliance is not in the prose that she used but in the direct and often simple constructs of personal pain and sometimes a misled belief in a reality that just wasn't. Truly, I couldn't read more than one or two stories at a time and I felt somehow changed by each one. I feel that favorite writers are our friends. I thank Flannery deeply for her honesty. In a time where some (most?, ok, maybe a bit harsh) fiction seems to be lost in it's own creation, Flannery O'Connor plays vividly in the mind's eye. I see her characters and place as if I was there, watching through her own creative sight. Do yourself a favor, get to know Flannery O'Connor.