Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I do not know whether this is the best biography of Flannery O Connor but it is certainly an excellent one.
Brad Gooch thoroughly discusses the time line and chronology of events of O Connor's life, giving the reader a deeper understanding of the person behind those disturbing Gothic stories.
We realize that O Connor was not simply making up these stories but was reporting what she saw: in her own family, on the cattle farm she and her widowed mother lived on, and the hired help who populated it.
We gain just how profound her Catholic faith was to her and how seamlessly she weaves that faith into each and every story, yet without preaching or creating pasty, smiley, saints. Flannery's characters are as rough edged as the teeth of a saw. She does not spare the reader the worst human nature has to offer.
It is interesting to me that O Connor created a number of the women characters after her mother. Flannery O Connor was especially close to her father and his untimely death to lupus,a disease that would later claim her own life at 39, left an indelible mark on her. Her mother was an overbearing, narrow-minded Southern gentrified lady, with all the bigoted and racist attitudes her background and era allowed. She trod rough shod over her daughter, who, as she became increasingly sick had to rely more and more on someone who had difficulty in understanding and perhaps even loving her.
Perhaps the lack of affection was mutual. Many of the women in O Connor's stories who came to dastardly ends bore no little resemblance to her mother. A friend voiced concern to Flannery that her mother would surely recognize herself in the stories. O Connor assured her that her mother "Doesn't ever read my stories. They put her to sleep."
Quite the irony for one of America's great writers to be unrecognized by her own family as she lived her unobtrusive life on a remote farm.
View all my reviews
Until next time...