Read The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor Online


Reprinted from Flannery O’Connor: Collected Works (The Library of America, 1988), pages 753–62. Originally published in the April 1948 issue of Sewanee Review. Copyright © 1948 by Flannery O’Connor; renewed 1976 by Regina Cline O’Connor; All rights reserved. Permission granted by Mary Flannery O’Connor Charitable Trust....

Title : The Complete Stories
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ISBN : 18377113
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 182 Pages
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The Complete Stories Reviews

  • Richard
    2019-03-12 03:17

    The stories in this collection were written by an unassuming yet serious Catholic woman from Georgia who, after devoting her short life to writing, died of lupus in 1964. Besides the stories, she had written two novels and started a third; one can only speculate what other masterpieces she would have written had she lived longer.The stories are hard-bitten, bizarre and haunting. Two that I read years ago in college have stuck with me and are just as jarring today as they were then. O'Connor's theme is the warpedness that resides deep in the human heart. Her protagonists are usually people who think quite highly of themselves. 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”). There are the people who dream nostalgically of a segregated society where inferiors knew their rank, respected their betters and did not try to move outside of their foreordained place in the pecking order (“The Geranium”, “Judgment Day”). 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”). And of course, there are those horrifying individuals who are evil, have surrendered themselves to it, and commit atrocities just because they can (“A Good Man is Hard to Find”, “The Lame Shall Enter First”).O'Connor's wrath and sarcasm are reserved most of all for those people who are so immured in themselves that they are unaware of their own blindness. Often there is a cataclysmic moment of epiphany when they are confronted at last with their own shortcomings. O'Connor lets these people show us their true colours either by enabling us to eavesdrop on their thoughts or by allowing us to listen to their conversations; she is a master of psychology and of dialogue. In her descriptions of the background scenery, nature often serves to highlight the desire of certain characters to escape their circumstances or the feeling of being trapped in an environment from which they cannot disentangle themselves without great effort. These stories are dark, bitter, angry and often tragic. But they are a brilliant barometer of the human heart and the depravity of which it is capable when left untouched by divine grace.

  • Robin
    2019-03-15 09:36

    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 Rage? which 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 argumentsA 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 chargeThe 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 consequencesEverything 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.

  • Aubrey
    2019-03-02 02:37

    "Listen here," he hissed, "I don't care if he's good or not. He ain't right!A 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 and more as 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-wise."You won't be the same again," the preacher said. "You'll count."I 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 far more hope. 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 much more concentrated manner than I am want to seriously consider."The 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 not more. All 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'être, but your godforsaken soul."Oh, 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 you."I may not be Catholic, but that is not an "anything but"."...she might experience a painful realization and this would be the only thing of value he had to leave her.

  • Teresa
    2019-03-14 05:20

    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.

  • Joe Valdez
    2019-02-28 10:23

    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, each more powerful 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 in:"The 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 to more of 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 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. 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 lot more complicated than either position and is explored beautifully in this book.

  • booklady
    2019-03-14 05:22

    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 sees more than anyone else, discerns the truth and speaks to more effect than the other three main characters. “You 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 voice.” AThe 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 hear more about 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 anymore. 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 exposé. 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 persons and yet it also works in the singular. It is about an entire family of Polish immigrants exiled from their homeland due to‘what was happening every day in Europe where they had not advanced as in this country.’ The 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 actually more than 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 more, 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 anymore. 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 much more important 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 grow more alert 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

  • Vit Babenco
    2019-03-13 10:15

    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.

  • ·Karen·
    2019-03-17 09:32

    Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?I can't imagine what it would have been like to live inside Mary Flannery O'Connor's head, obviously. But I am damned sure it can't have been agreeable. Her world is peopled with monsters. Damaged, limbs severed. Afflicted. Not whole. Children like evil spirits that descend on the sanctimonious. Parents that neglect, or beat their children. Bigots. The cruel and the feckless and the randomly murderous. Their names are monstrous too. Mr Shiftlet. A girl whose given name was Joy, but who changes it to the ugliest name in any language, Hulga. Unappealing children like poor Norton Sheppard: "He had very large round ears that leaned away from his head and seemed to pull his eyes slightly too far apart." It's not only the humans who are aberrant, diabolical, macabre. A bull that gores Mrs Greenleaf. Stairs that turn into cliff faces, unassailable in this life or the next. A digger that seems to be eating the earth and spitting it out. Mythical beasts. Trees that leap out at you. Visions. The damned and the saved. "In the woods around her the invisible cricket choruses had struck up, but what she heard were the voices of the souls climbing upward into the starry field and shouting hallelujah."My strongest impression is a kind of torpor. The people are ossified, so rigidly pressed into the forms moulded by their upbringing that any change or movement is fatal to them. Those transplanted to an alien environment barely survive. A woman who is confronted with the fact that her condescending penny handed to a black child is no longer accepted does not survive the shock. The younger generation are often ineffective, weak, artistic, but unproductive, incapable, noncommittal. Walter in Why Do The Heathen Rage?:"Her son. Her only 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. There was no innocence in him, no rectitude, no conviction either of sin or election. The man she saw courted good and evil impartially and saw so many sides of every question that he could not move, he could not work, he could not even make niggers work. Any evil could enter that vacuum. God knows, she thought and caught her breath, God knows what he might do!He had not done anything. He was twenty-eight now, and so far as she could see, nothing occupied him but trivia."This betrays a view of the world that I find hard to swallow: flexibility, a plurality of attitude as an encumbrance that renders you immoveable. 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. The battle trumpet blares from heaven and see how our General marches fully armed. Not gentle Jesus, meek and mild. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?By the way, please note: 5 stars!! It is a cabinet of curiosities, and a wonderful one at that.

  • Duane
    2019-03-05 08:37

    This is one of O'Connor's first short stories, originally published in 1948, and used again in her acclaimed collection "The Complete Stories", published in 1971.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-03-12 08:43

    One of my 2014 reading goals was to read Flannery O'Connor. It got to be Christmas 2014 and I hadn't touched her, so I have binge read all of her stories in just a few days.It might not be the best way to do it, but some of the repeated events and themes - death, guilt, resistance to chance, issues with religion - start to become comical when repeated at such rapid frequency.And laughter is appropriate. Flannery O'Connor is not afraid of humor, evidenced by one of the only surviving recordings of her, reading A Good Man is Hard to Find. It is a rare treat to hear her very southern drawl too.The complete stories compiles her two published anthologies - A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories and Everything That Rises Must Converge: Stories. The first six are from her MFA (equivalent) thesis, unpublished as a set, at Iowa. The very first story, The Geranium, was revamped by O'Connor and sent to her publisher as Judgement Day, a few days before her death (which ends with the line: "Now she rests well at night and her good looks have mostly returned.") I first read the late stories, then the earliest, and finished with those in the Good Story volume. A few memorable moments from some of my favorite stories:"'A good man is hard to find,' Red Sammy said. 'Everything is getting terrible.'" - from A Good Man Is Hard to Find"All day Joy sat on her neck in a deep chair, reading. Sometimes she went for walks but she didn't like dogs or cats or birds or flowers or nature or nice young men. She looked at nice young men as if she could smell their stupidity." - from Good Country People"How utterly utterly." and "People just don't die like they used to." - from The Enduring Chill"The only virtue of my generation," [Walter] said, "is that it ain't ashamed to tell the truth about itself." - from Why Do the Heathen Rage?This is just a small thing but one that had me giggling throughout the stories. O'Connor can swear in very creative ways!"I don't take no crap off no wool-hat red-neck son-of-a-bitch peckerwood old bastard like you." - from Judgement DayThat and other parts are great fun to read out loud, as Flannery O'Connor knows the characters she is writing about and how they talk. She has a great capture of the south in her specific era, for better or worse. I have never seen so many instances of the N- word in one place, so fair warning.

  • Cosimo
    2019-03-19 05:37

    La vita che salviNon 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. La O'Connor ci sospinge al di là del buio, nell'oscurità che non possiamo conoscere; come autrice si trasforma in un destino che ci guida, attraverso le sfide del vivere, le domande senza risposta, la lotta per affermare di esistere, la violenza che ha origine dalla colpa. Preparatevi a sentirvi al contempo brav'uomo e assassino, storpio e essere superiore pieno di grazia, prete e confessore, mendicante e cinico giudice. Con i suoi archetipi informali, nei luoghi capitali e esemplari dove ambienta le storie, Flannery O'Connor ci comunica che esiste un'attrazione verso il male, verso la disgrazia e il delitto, così come sono possibili la fede, il perdono, la trascendenza; qualcosa di superiore che, forse umano forse no, muove le gesta dei personaggi e la penna della scrittrice. Magnetismo: la caratteristica che connota maggiormente queste pagine, questi racconti straordinari costruiti sulla scoperta, lo stupore, il turbamento e la follia. I racconti sono un'investigazione tragica e sublime di alcuni interrogativi: cosa scorre nel nostro corpo, di cosa sono fatte le nostre passioni, cosa significa credere che ciascun essere umano è unico. Alla fine eccovi dentro al cuore profondo del mistero, al segreto della sapienza abissale e biblica: la trasfigurazione di una realtà narrata in mitologia evocata e predestinata, tramite parole di spietata potenza.

  • Cheryl
    2019-02-22 10:37

    You know the cliché saying, "the moral of the story is..." Flannery O'Connor's stories all seem illustrative of this saying--in a good way. She has a way of using disgruntled characters to showcase social issues of her time. Once you get past the slurs (in most cases the n-word for me) to really read the story and see that she uses such care to highlight realism in her somewhat mystical fiction, so that you get to see the ignorance and shortcomings of her characters, you get it. How she could have written with such an awareness beyond her time is amazing. Death is also a major underlying theme in this collection. I wouldn't have understood it had I not visited the Flannery O'Connor Home and learned about her story. O'Connor died at a young age of lupus. Her father predeceased her at a young age as well (from the same disease) and while she wrote most of her stories, while she struggled with the recurrence of her illness, she knew she would be next. O'Connor was also strong-minded at a young age, I learned (like some of her younger characters, i.e. Mary Fortune). At 6 years old, she announced to the nuns at her children's church that she would be attending the grown folks church. Her editor said this about her: "Behind her soft-spoken speech, clear-eyed gaze and shy manner, I sensed a tremendous strength. This was the rarest kind of young writer, one who was prepared to work her utmost and knew exactly what she must do with her talent."You definitely see strength behind these words. Things that really stand out in this collection: 1) the metaphorical language (in awe), 2) the astounding dialogue (and use of dialect) 3) the way she makes you see a character's inner mind better than most writers can, 4) the mystery within each story (you end up being skeptical of each character and waiting to see what preposterousness will occur at the end). THIS is a collection for the shelves. Beware though, it is dark.A few of my favorites:1. Geranium (from Flannery O'Connor's MFA thesis)2. A Good Man is Hard To Find3. A Late Encounter With The Enemy4. The Life You Save May Be Your Own5. The Displaced Person6. The Comforts of Home7. Why Do the Heathen Rage? (a novel-in-progresss)

  • Erik F.
    2019-03-23 10:31

    An unforgettable collection of hard-hitting, caustically humorous and unrelentingly cynical stories from perhaps the strongest female voice in Southern U.S. fiction. O’Connor turns her merciless eye on religious hypocrisy, class consciousness, racism, gender roles, familial relationships, and other fertile topics, plowing them for the ugly truths they reveal about the general nature of humankind. Spending time with her characters (all of whom are depressive, delusional, misanthropic, criminal, physically handicapped, or a combination of these) is not exactly a pleasant experience, and the Schadenfreude meter can sometimes run high, but the insight brought to their lives and behaviors is so piercing, the attention to detail so sharp, and the emotional impact so forceful that you are left without any doubt of O’Connor’s mastery of the form.* The major characters experience moments of clarity, even full-blown revelations, that arrive too late to reverse whatever damage has been caused, but may prevent future failings in their lives† (and maybe even in ours). Though some form of redemption (or salvation, or “divine grace”) always seems to linger just out of arm’s reach, bleak ironies and fatalistic notions of poetic justice still reign in these deceptively simple, unsparingly human and – more often than not – profoundly unsettling pieces. Read them!Personal favorites: "Greenleaf," "Good Country People," "Parker's Back," "The Enduring Chill," "The Lame Shall Enter First," "The River," "Everything That Rises Must Converge," "A Circle in the Fire," "The Partridge Festival"* This bit of praise applies to about 80% of the stories; inevitably, a few aren’t quite as successful or memorable as the others.† if they survive the story, of course.

  • Bam
    2019-03-08 04:37

    Flannery O'Conner (1925-1964) earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1947 from the University of Iowa, having attended the well-known writer's workshop at that institution. The first six stories in this volume were submitted as her thesis for her degree under the title 'The Geranium: A Collection of Short Stories.' There are thirty-one stories included here, twelve of which were appearing for the first time in book form, and this collection was published posthumously, winning the National Book Award for Fiction in 1972.O'Connor writes in the Southern Gothic style with great insight into human frailties and prejudices.Quite often the main character in a story is an elderly farm woman trying to get the help she needs to run the farm. O'Connor skewers southern society with its perception of class hierarchy and the naive belief in 'good country people.'Frequently the main character is a lost soul looking for meaning in life, perhaps seeking God in all the wrong places--her religious faith appears to have been quite important to O'Connor. These stories are rich and imaginative, occasionally shocking with unexpected violence or an unique twist of fate. Excellent reading!#2016-aty-reading-challenge-week-33: the 16th book on my tbr.

  • Hadrian
    2019-03-16 04:39

    I've written and thrown out three drafts on why Flannery O'Connor is Great. I won't bother with it again, not for a while.She covers the Grotesque and Sin of Southern life, for some thirty-odd stories. Sin and Grace in a palatable and altering way. Excellent characterization, using the smallest of details and conversations to broaden personality. Like all good short story collections, not to be consumed in one sitting.

  • Tom Mathews
    2019-02-23 04:31

    Flannery O’connor is an acquired taste. Her tales may not tell a linear story in the commonly accepted sense but her insightful portrayals of quirky characters are unforgettable. 4 1/5 stars.

  • piperitapitta
    2019-03-07 02:15

    Anche la terra è dei violenti.Non c'è consolazione in questi diciannove racconti di Flannery O'Connor.La sua è un'umanità derelitta, misera, meschina, emarginata, disgustosa.È difficile provare empatia per qualcuno, ma soprattutto è difficile provare o riuscire a immedesimarsi in uno qualsiasi dei suoi personaggi: uomo o donna, bambino o negro che sia. Dico 'negro' perché questi racconti sono pieni di 'negri', esseri un gradino al di sotto degli esseri umani che si accompagnano all'uomo bianco così come il cane si accompagna al proprio padrone. E la questione razziale, non ancora risolta, non ancora metabolizzata, forse nemmeno dalla stessa autrice, si manifesta prepotentemente in tutta la sua crudezza, in quella pietà che non ha niente di umano ma che si accompagna solo a istinti primordiali e all'irritante volontà di dimostrarsi comprensivi e misericordiosi al di là di ogni reale convincimento.Non piaceva a Flannery O' Connor, scopro leggendo l'introduzione di Marisa Caramella, una delle due traduttrici, essere definita un'autrice del Sud, né tantomeno l'etichetta di autrice verista o realista*. Eppure il suo realismo, che sfocia il più delle volte nel grottesco, rimanda nell'immediato allo stesso realismo grottesco di Erskine Caldwell, così come le sue fattorie non possono che ricondurre immediatamente a quelle di 'Via col vento'. Ed è profondamente del Sud la società rurale che descrive, ancora fortemente divisa per caste «A volte, la notte, la signore Turpin si metteva a classificare la gente. In fondo al mucchio c'era la maggior parte dei negri, non il tipo che sarebbe stata lei, se l'avessero fatta negra, ma la maggior parte. Dopo di loro, non al disopra, ma separati, venivano i bianchi poveri; poi, sopra di loro, la gente che aveva una casa propria; e, ancora sopra, quelli che avevano casa e terreno, fra i quali lei e Claud. Al disopra di lei e di Claud stava la gente che aveva soldi a palate, case molto più grandi e molta più terra.» e ci si accorge nell'arco di questi diciannove racconti che quello che si va disegnando davanti i nostri occhi è un mondo in cui la vita non perdona e non regala e non offre speranza o possibilità di riscatto a nessuno; sembra un Inferno dantesco popolato di vivi, un inferno nel quale a nessuno è data la possibilità di riscattare con le proprie azioni (tutte sempre viziate dall'egoismo e dalla presunzione di una moralità veterotestamentaria corrotta negli intenti) un'esistenza in cui alle meschinità si susseguono e si alternano le bastonate quotidiane.Il teologo Hans Urs von Balthasar sostiene che l'Inferno esista, ma che sia vuoto**, perché la bontà di Dio e la sua immensa misericordia, sono indirizzate al perdono, e che mai potrebbe esistere un Inferno che fosse soltanto il fuoco della Geenna o un mondo di tenebre fatto solo di dolore 'pianto e stridore di denti', e al cristiano dei nostri tempi, la cui fede è improntata al faidate, piuttosto che all'osservazione di dogmi e precetti, questa è un'ipotesi che piace parecchio e che spinge molti a sostenere che il vero Inferno sia la vita, il mondo che ci circonda e che ci costringe a combattere tutti i giorni una battaglia che quasi sempre ci vede sconfitti.Non credo che fosse neanche questa, nonostante molto simile nella visione terrena, l'idea di fondo di Flannery O'Connor, che ricorda a tutti - uomini donne negri e bambini - che gli occhi del Cristo ci guardano, sempre e ovunque, e che per tutti non esiste possibile redenzione in vita, né povertà maggiore di quella che vivremo quando saremo morti, di quando arriverà, implacabile, il giorno del giudizio. Giorno del giudizio, però, che avremo già vissuto ogni giorno della nostra vita e in cui saremo continuamente puniti e sbeffeggiati anche per la nostre ipocrisie e falsità.L'idea, la sensazione, quello che toglie il fiato, è di trovarsi in una spirale infinita in cui non c'è salvezza.«Quanto al giorno del giudizio,» disse lo sconosciuto, «ogni giorno è il giorno del giudizio.»*«La prima necessità con cui [lo scrittore] si trova a dover fare i conti è quella di dire cosa 'non' sta cercando di fare, perché anche se oggi non esistono vere e proprie scuole letterarie in America, c'è sempre qualche critico pronto a infilarci le tue opere. Se sei uno scrittore del Sud, questa etichetta, e tutti gli equivoci che la accompagnano, ti viene immediatamente appiccicata addosso, e tocca a te disfartene come meglio puoi. […] Naturalmente, ho scoperto che tutto quello che viene dal Sud viene chiamato grottesco dal lettore del Nord, a meno che sia davvero grottesco, nel qual caso viene chiamato realistico»(The Grotesque in Southern Fiction, in Mistery and Manners, a cura di Sally e Robert Fitzgerald, 1983)** (qui un articolo che spiega piuttosto chiaramente l'equivoco sorto in seguito alle dichiarazioni di Hans Urs von Balthasar).

  • Jake
    2019-03-12 08:43

    Flannery O'Connor had a lot to be unhappy about. Dying of lupus in backwater Georgia. Or before that, being too-smart and too-ugly growing up in a time when Southern women were supposed to be seen and not heard. Or moving up North and feeling homesick for a place she spent most of her life hating and trying to escape, and them coming back sick and over-educated and feeling more out of place than ever. That stuff would have been hard enough to deal with in itself, but if you're also deeply religious, as O'Connor was, with the kind of Catholicism that tells you all suffering happens for a reason- well, then you can see how a person could start seeing her problems in truly Biblical terms. And I mean Biblical: death and dismemberment, hellfire and salvation- these are the constant themes of all of Flannery O'Connor's stories. Not all suffering brings wisdom. Some just gives you a perverse interest in seeing other people suffer. Take one character in Good Country People: "Mrs. Freeman had a special fondness for the details of secret infections, hidden deformities, assaults upon children. Of diseases, she preferred the lingering or incurable." Was O'Connor this type of person? Certainly, there is a deep and unrelenting streak of darkness in her stories- characters are always having debilitating strokes or heart attacks, or suffering from painful ulcers or end-stage diabetes. Children commit suicide (drowning, hanging), and women are gored and shot to death and frequently beaten. Her weaker stories can seem mean- she seems to set up various grotesque Southern caricatures only to mow them down- and this happens over and over in such exquisite variation that you start to think it's a personal fetish with her- a desire to cut up and mutilate a world she couldn't stand.And as with most people who can't stand where they're from, O'Connor's contempt extends to herself. Many of the stories have obvious stand-ins for the author: spoiled, selfish writers who return South to mooch off their parents and pass judgement on their backwardness. These characters inevitably meet with a bad end- getting their wooden leg stolen, as in "Good Country People", or catching a nasty case of brucella from drinking unpasturized milk ("The Enduring Chill.") They're also consistently described as untalented, ungrateful, and lacking the sympathetic generosity of their simple-minded relatives. One of the big questions O'Connor seems to wrestle with, over and over again, is how characters like herself could be saved. How, despite their flaws, could they find redemption?Somewhere, fairly early on, O'Connor seems to have found an answer to this question, and not surprisingly, she found it in religion. The first part of this solution was the realization that suffering on its own isn't that interesting- it's only the suffering that brings grace, or at least clarity, that counts. The second part is what type of suffering brings this wisdom. Take the justly famous "A Good Man is Hard to Find"- in it, an old, self-righteous woman experiences her first moment of true connection, sadly, with the serial killer who has just murdered her family, and who then murders her. The final line of the story is often taken as evidence of O'Connor's dark, cynical streak: "'She would of been a good woman,' The Misfit said, 'if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.' But I don't see it as cynical: O'Connor really believes that transcendence exists, and that these moments of sudden grace are the only moments that count- and these moments inevitably involve sudden violence. Again and again her characters experience these kinds of brutal epiphanies- moments that tear up the fabric of their regular lives. One of the most beautiful occurs in "The Revelation", experienced by a fat, racist Matron who's just been struck in the head with a heavy book: "She raised her hands from the side of the pen in a gesture hieratic and profound. A visionary light settled in her eyes. 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 towards heaven."When I was an English Major at college Flannery O'Connor was presented as a kind of social critic- as a clear-eyed observer of the various hypocrisies of the post-war South. And of course, she does that kind of thing very well. In stories like "Everything Rises Must Converge", she turns an encounter between an elderly white woman and a young black mother into a masterful exposition of everything that was ripping the country apart in the early-60s. But that's really not what the story is about. Like all of her stories, "Everything that Rises" is about a moment of grace brought on by a sudden violent act. In this case, it's when the old woman gets punched in the face. All the social observation is just in service to setting up the revelation. Reading the 32 stories in this volume isn't easy work. Each one builds up an exquisite little world and then destroys it. It's draining reading, and although Flannery O'Connor is unmatched in writing this particular type of story, reading them back to back can be a monotonous experience. It reminds me of reading the later works of Salinger- you get the feeling the author has stumbled onto a mystical formula, but they have become trapped in it- like some Borgesian character that's forced to write the same story over and over until it becomes transparent and they achieve some final release. But maybe it's unfair to hold O'Connor to a Hemingway-breadth in her work. She never had the opportunity to travel the world or fight in a Civil War or hunt dangerous game. But it's hard not to wish she had the chance to finally free herself, once an for all, of her past- to break out into the world and discover some new kinds of grace.

  • Bruno
    2019-03-09 05:29

    “A good man is hard to find,” Red Sammy said. “Everything is getting terrible.”Vorrei avere un dottorato in letteratura americana per poter parlare della meravigliosa O’Connor con cognizione di causa, ma purtroppo non è il mio caso. Cinici, tragici, amari, cattivi, violenti, perversi. Se anche solo uno di questi aggettivi stuzzica le vostre corde, avete trovato la raccolta perfetta!La O’Connor non sembra contemplare l’idea di lieto fine e le differenti sorti assegnate ai suoi personaggi sono decisamente poco invidiabili. Flannery O’Connor è nata a Savannah, in Georgia, nel Sud degli Stati Uniti, elemento che la accomuna a scrittori come William Faulkner e Cormac McCarthy. Tutti e tre vengono infatti raggruppati in quel genere letterario che prende il nome di Southern Gothic. Sebbene la O’Connor odiasse quest’etichetta e la considerasse una “entità mitica”, la sua opera rientra a tutti gli effetti in questo genere, la cui caratteristica principale è appunto l’utilizzo del soggetto grottesco, inteso come realtà distorta. L’autrice inserisce infatti la brutalità e l’orrore nella vita comune dei suoi personaggi per stravolgere la loro concezione di mondo. Questa tecnica della violenza ha anche il compito di insinuare nell’ordinario svolgersi degli eventi un altro elemento caratteristico dell’opera dell’autrice: il Mistero. Il Mistero è la foggia in cui si presenta il Divino davanti all’uomo, ma nella O’Connor si tratta di una manifestazione scioccante. “I suoi personaggi lo vivono come una violenza, un’offesa, un intervento distruttivo che sconvolge l’equilibrio del mondo umano”. Così nell’introduzione al libro recita Marisa Caramella, che continua affermando : “la difficoltà ad affrontare uno dopo l’altro i racconti della O’Connor non è dovuta alla complessità del suo modo di scrivere – complessità solo apparente, dovuta alla ricchezza di metafore e simboli che l’autrice usa per rappresentare con più efficacia una realtà immediata e brutale - ma alla resistenza che questa immediatezza e questa brutalità provocano in chi è viziato da letture consolatorie, da scrittori indulgenti.”Il disagio che si prova inizialmente, difatti, sta proprio nella difficoltà a rispecchiarsi in un’umanità così mostruosa e bizzarra, anche se non mancano le occasioni dove è inevitabile empatizzare con il destino di alcuni personaggi, come quello di Enoch Emery, che comparirà più volte nei racconti e che poi finirà per essere uno dei protagonisti del primo romanzo della scrittrice, La saggezza nel sangue. Altra caratteristica tipica della prosa di Flannery O’Connor è l’uso del simbolismo, strettamente collegato alla fede cattolica dell’autrice. Il pavone, per esempio, che è quasi un feticcio per la scrittrice, è sempre stato associato all’immortalità e in questi racconti viene utilizzato come simbolo di Cristo. [SPOILER] In Un colpo di fortuna, invece, si affronta il tema del rifiuto e dell’accettazione. Ruby, la protagonista, appare affaticata mentre sale le scale che portano al proprio appartamento e teme di essere malata. Sarà la vicina di casa a farle realizzare che il suo affaticamento è dovuto in realtà ad una gravidanza. Ruby rifiuta inizialmente l’idea di essere rimasta incinta sebbene il marito le avesse assicurato di essere stato sempre molto cauto e la sua accettazione avviene gradualmente e in maniera letteralmente ascensionale - mentre sale le rampe di scale. Queste ultime constano di 28 scalini ciascuna, simbolo del ciclo mestruale. Inoltre, volendo riposarsi ad un certo punto, Ruby si adagia su uno scalino sedendosi per sbaglio sopra una pistola giocattolo, dimenticata lì da un bambino che vive nel palazzo. La pistola ha un chiaro riferimento fallico…“Venticinque centimetri di latta micidiale” (Be’, complimenti al marito di Ruby!). Il simbolismo viene utilizzato anche per mediare il Divino. In Brava gente di campagna la mancanza di fede di uno dei personaggi si traduce in una disabilità fisica, nello specifico nella mancanza di una gamba. Fra le tante cose che ho amato ed ammirato della O’Connor è che ogni singola parola è messa lì per un motivo. Sembra difficile da credere, ma nulla è lasciato al caso. Rileggendo un racconto con gli occhi di chi conosce il suo epilogo, ci si accorge che la storia era piena zeppa di indizi fin dall’inizio. Un oggetto, la descrizione di un paesaggio, il colore di un abito, la scelta di un aggettivo associato ad un determinato personaggio, possono trasformarsi in dei veri e propri presagi di quello che accadrà. [SPOILER] Nel racconto La vita che salvi potrebbe essere la tua, per esempio, la striscia gialla con cui Shiftlet dipinge l’auto potrebbe essere simbolo del successivo tradimento e inganno. In Brava gente di campagna, quando Hulga viene soggiogata dai propri sentimenti, il paesaggio assume una sfumatura rosa, colore tradizionalmente legato alla sensualità e alle emozioni. E’ stata la raccolta di racconti più stimolante che abbia mai letto. La O’Connor ha risvegliato in me una febbre di conoscenza. Sono andato alla ricerca di analisi, ho riletto, sottolineato, scritto, ricopiato. Credo non ci sia cosa più bella che un libro possa ispirare: la voglia di imparare sempre di più. Recensione completa:

  • Allen
    2019-03-13 09:22

    Before I begin, let me say this: by no means is Flannery O'Conner a bad writer. She knows her quite very well. But there is a major beef I have with her stories: the repetition. Of course, some stories a true gems ("A Good man is Hard to Find", "The River"), but after making my way through about a third of the stories, the same themes started reappearing with the same type of deffiecent characters and the same kinds of endings.That is not to say they aren't enjoyable. I laughed along with some genuinely humorous moments. But variety is not something you will find here. Individually, some of the stories shine. But when taken together, as a collection must be, O'Connor's stories end up repeating themselves to the point that you don't need to read all of them. That's right: any given group of her stories render the rest obsolete. And here's a tip for other students: If you need to find what a certain action/object/animal/character symbolizes, you can never go wrong with relating it to Jesus somehow.

  • Ronald Morton
    2019-03-25 05:18

    I'm trying to get out of my comfort zone this year, and that includes reading some short story collections (which I tend to not be crazy about), and in doing so I'm trying to hit some of the best practitioners (critically) of the form.My biggest complaint about this collection is including O'Connor's early (unpublished before this collection) stuff up front. It makes sense chronologically, but they're weaker than the rest of the collection, and I would have rather read them last (but I'm OCD and hate skipping around).Unsurprisingly the rest of the stuff is excellent, containing many examples of damn perfect short fiction, all written in O'Connor's utterly inimitable voice.Thankfully I have little plans for more short stuff (some more Carver and that's about it), as this would be tough to top.

  • Alexa Vaughn
    2019-03-22 04:31

    Every one of these stories leaves its main character in a complete sense of doom, but there's more to it than that. There's a spiritual revelation or rebirth in the midst the character's painful stupor. What I love about these endings is that as painful as that character's state of mind is at the end, they're also seeing things more clearly and truthfully than they ever have in their life--and it's undeniably beautiful, no matter how painful the situation happens to be. And boy does she know how to make a situation as painful and grotesque as it can be.Her most well-known short story probably is A Good Man is Hard to Find, which is excellent. But my favorites are The Enduring Chill and Everything That Rises Must Converge.

  • Maria
    2019-02-26 05:21

    Nei racconti di Flannery O'Connor il vero protagonista è il mistero, l'inspiegabile che si compie nelle diverse manifestazioni della grazia e nelle azioni che i protagonisti decidono di intraprendere o, meglio, nel modo in cui gli stessi scelgono di gestire la nuova consapevolezza in relazione al libero arbitrio. Continua su:

  • pierlapoquimby
    2019-03-21 02:30

    Come quando l'aria è così tersa da permettere, solo che ci si sollevi un poco, uno sguardo lontano, che abbraccia tutto e con luce vivida e naturale svela i dettagli più nascosti, così è la scrittura di Flannery O'Connor.

  • Leola
    2019-03-18 07:17

    Having lived with this collection for almost a year, and having read each story as slowly as possible, in coming to the end I feel I'm now grieving for all that O'Connor never wrote. As Thomas Merton said about Flannery in 1965: "A relentlessly perfect writer, full of tragedy and irony."

  • Jacob
    2019-03-16 05:42

    July 2009Grim and often occasionally horrifying stories of the South and some of the people who occupy its darkest parts. Slightly repetitive, especially when read too close together--I settled for one story per day, over the course of a month, so it's probably best to take these one at a time. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" and "Revelation" were especially powerful.

  • J.W. Dionysius Nicolello
    2019-03-11 05:21

    Holy shit. Thomas Merton was right (I'm not surprised, but check it out): 'O'Connor to me will never rank among Hemingway, Porter, good writers like that. O'Connor is more like Sophocles.' After the first eight stories this thing lights on fire. Sifting from A Stroke.. into Enoch.. into A Good Man... that alone is enough to just be completely blown away. And then there's the fury of twenty more to follow. In fact, A Late Encounter comes next! I've put it down against my will for now because that rare, rare magic overtook me through insomnia reading last night, deep into 4 AM with a car ride through a blizzard to follow in some hours: The magic I speak of, realizing in the middle of something, "Fuck! This is one of THOSE masterpieces! When I'm done I'll be depressed! Depressed, why! Because you'll never get to read the Complete Stories for the first time again, you fool! Savor this goddamn thing!"I've read enough to give it five stars and may as well. Ah, fuck it, I will anyway. It really is that good. In closing, this book is one of those rare instances wherein everyone is saying it's fucking mind-blowingly good. And for once, everyone is right. Someone go get me a jug of wine and a ticket to Flannery's grave by bus. ENOCH SITTING ON THE CLIFF THE LONG WALK UPSTAIRSDEAD GENERAL BESIDE COCA COLA MACHINEOLD DUDLEY'S INVISIBLE GUNI try to stick to my block-reviews of six to twenty sentences but sometimes I get excited. The day American high school teach O'Connor is the day I'll contemplating cooling off on ripping the soft fascist machine to shreds through my words and my actions and my words. HEAD LIKE CABBAGEBODY LIKE Alright, enough. If you want the real deal check out other professional/unprofessional reviews routed in seriousness. But if you still reading I do encourage to get your hands on this book, especially if you're going through some lagging doldrums with fiction and can't get much engaged, whether you've read 'Too Much' or are working on your own stuff too much or just don't read fiction anymore because it 'Bores You.' Well, whatever. If you don't get this one just go back to Sammy's Barbeque, allow Grandma's cat in the bag, and tell yr Woes to The Misfit. Judgement Day. postcript to my friend Smelaga (Forgot how to spell name shall rewrite) you were damn right about yr recs. the fucking leg stealer, Revelation - devoured all save a handful today, whatever, gracefully handing this collection o'er to LIFER collection alongside some others I've mentioned or haven't. This is one of the best. I doubt I will ever be alone on a desert island long before I starve to death or am eaten alive by cannibals but this is serious SUITCASE ACROSS COUNTRY WHAT TEN BOOKS TO PUT IN IT MATERIAL - more to come or not.

  • Holly
    2019-03-14 10:39

    "[...] I'm the victim. I've always been the victim." ("Greenleaf") Here's the thing: I didn't actually enjoy reading Flannery O'Connor's complete collection of short stories. O'Connor's characters are frustrated, angry, resistant to change, religiously devoted to their customs. Her writing is sparse, full of jolting similes and matter-of-fact dialogue. It's cruel and decisive. It's like quicksand, coming up from under to suffocate you.He wondered if she walked at night and came there ever—came with that look on her face, unrested and looking, going up the path and through the barn open all around and stopping in the shadow by the store boarded up, coming on unrested with that look on her face like he had seen through the crack going down. ("The Train") It took me three months to work my way through this collection of thirty-one stories; after each story, it was like I had to come down from it and enter into a recovery period before I was able to pick it back up. The first five stories ("The Geranium," "The Barber," "Wildcat," "The Crop," "The Turkey") are entry-level O'Connor, flat but impressive, nuanced, the calm before the storm. The weakest and my least favorite were the the stories which were later revised into the novel Wise Blood; they were frankly a chore to slog through, especially armed with the knowledge that I was ignorant of the context.However, O'Connor seems to almost abruptly reach the height of her powers, beginning with "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" and bookending with "Judgement Day." Story after story after story of perfection or near perfection: standouts for me included "A Circle in the Fire," "The Displaced Person," "Good Country People," "Greenleaf," "A View of the Woods," "Everything That Rises Must Converge," "The Partridge Festival," "The Lame Shall Enter First," and "Revelation." What worked for me in O'Connor's writing was her complete lack of shame or embarrassment in her exposures of humanity; her ability to capture the irrationality of humanity's most visceral behavior—her utter lack of heartbeat-skipping—made me choke on my dinner.Living had got to be such a habit with him that he couldn't conceive of any other condition. ("A Late Encounter With the Enemy")So while O'Connor isn't a writer whose work I particularly wanted to read, or whose prose filled me with love and shame, or whose stories resounded with me on high, she is a writer who needs to be read. Her work will creep under me forever.

  • Tyler
    2019-03-25 02:29

    How would you feel if you emptied your garbage can on the floor, searching through the contents for a valuable you were sure was lost there, only to end up with muck on your hands? That's how I felt after reading a collection of the author's short stories.With a few adjustments for technology and history, the characters depicted in story after story are mostly ordinary, modern Americans. In fact, the author's benighted rookery of dim-wits and out-and-out idiots finds its voice today thoughout the general culture in this country, and their febrile rantings and dreadful taste suffuse the editorial pages and lifestyle sections of every Southern newspaper. So why, pray tell, would anyone want to lionize them in prose?Perhaps if the author had written about me, she would have had no need for Hulga. That I grant. I don't find the characters delightful or amusing, as some suggest; the tone of the stories feels as if the author is laughing at me rather than with me. Nor do the stories read as "Gothic" to me; instead, they seem postmodern, a genre whose nihilistic pointlessness leaves me cold. As a result, I could find neither connection nor sympathy with the characters and plots.My reaction is out of step with others'. I've liked Gone With the Wind, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and even The Sound and the Fury, so it isn't the setting or some narrative technique that grates. Rather, it's the very thing most people like: that the characterizations cut so close to the people we encounter, or rather, endure, every day. I cannot detach myself from their stupidity enough to enjoy stories about them. I note, finally, that I scored the stories as I did in spite of the obvious talent I saw in Flannery O'Connor's writing. The subject matter is simply too repellent.

  • Michelle Hallett
    2019-03-13 02:30

    Some readers complain of a repetition of themes in O'Connor, but I think you'll find that repetition in the body of work of many writers as they try to puzzle out and understand what worries them. O'Connor, a devout Catholic in the deeply Protestant Georgia, a highly educated single woman with a chronic and ultimately fatal illness, posessor of a fierce mind, was an outsider in more ways than I can count. Her gender and time (publishing in the 1950s and early 1960s) only emphasize the revolutionary aspects of her work: well-brought-up ladies simply did not write about murderers, delinquents, predators, and the everyday monstrosities and moral failings of "nice" people. Her characters struggle for their very souls, often unwares. Yes, souls: O'Connor's world is a spiritual one, where spiritual concerns matter deeply. It is also a very physical world, with crippling illness, pain, suffering, dust and hot sun. Grace comes -- violently. Nothing about O'Connor's work is easy, except, perhaps, those offhand openings that feel like an invitation into a cool parlour on a hot day, a parlour you then quickly want to escape but cannot. My particular favourites:"A Good Man Is Hard to Find""Good Country People""The Displaced Person""Late Encounter with the Enemy"and, dear God, "The Lame Shall Enter First."