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Diane

FLANNERY O'CONNOR

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Yep, the lady deserves all caps.

Flannery O'Connor is one of my favorite writers. To my knowledge, I've read all of her fiction (sadly, there's not a lot of it), and I revisit her works regularly, gleaning more meaning each time I read. Her work is continually challenging, thought-provoking, frustrating, and mind-blowing.

O'Connor was treated shabbily by my professors at college. We read her story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" in good old English 102. My instructor didn't even bother to discuss the story. The lady, who had previously informed us she came from a family full of preachers, said something along the lines of, "I find it just too disturbing, so we're not really going to talk about it." Later, in a senior-level course on short stories (taught by Dennis Covington of Salvation on Sand Mountain fame), three of her short stories were covered in about 5 minutes. Covington announced that 5 minutes did her justice.

What are your thoughts on O'Connor? Are her stories just too similar? Is the Southern grotesque just too far-fetched? Are her works too dark? (An acquaintance once read Wise Blood and announced that O'Connor must have hated everybody.) How do you feel about her use of violence as a wake-up call and how she introductes her characters to the idea of God's grace in sometimes frightening and always startling ways?

I'd love to hear any comments. Favorite stories? Favorite novels? (Oh, there are only two of those.) Stories that still don't make sense? Please share.

--Diane

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