Flannery O’Connor is one of my favorite writers, even if I still have to read her works with a bit of assistance from SparkNotes.
I picked up this collection* to re-read Wise Blood and to read the Violent Bear It Away for the first time.
*it’s at most any library, since the print version holds its value quite well – likely due to college literature classes
Her writing is the Southern Gothic archetype, even though she never did like the label. It’s strange, haunting, and has such a strong association with the land.
What I Liked
I love the setting & characters that she creates. I have lived most of my life in Georgia, so the land & cultural mythology deeply resonates.
The plot is never what I think it’s going to be and the characters never develop how I think they are going to develop.
There’s always, always some memorable scene that just sticks in my head in a way that few other novels do.
This specific edition is amazing simply because it’s all of her published work. Since so much of her work is short stories and shorter-length novels, it’s useful to have it all in one place. Also, the foreword / introduction is interesting & useful.
What I Didn’t Like
O’Connor is not as difficult as William Faulkner, but she is still difficult. I have to consult SparkNotes to confirm that what I think happened, did in fact happen.
This edition has very small type. It’s fine for a while, but if possible, I prefer reading the stand-alone works.
It’s a novel, so most of my takeaways are personal and a bit hard to explain without personal context. However, I do think that her themes and characters are universal enough that her stories have something for everyone.
Even though her novels are difficult (for me), I never regret spending time reading them. As an adult who has a bent towards popular non-fiction & never really got into literature in a big way, it’s always a difficult balance.
I’m a huge fan of quitting a book if it’s just not working for me…but there have been plenty of books that I have not regretted quitting…even though I really wanted to. This collection is a good reminder that there’s a balance.