Sunday, February 10, 2019

Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch

Another beautiful piece by Gabriel Faure.  Here is Sicilienne for 'Cello and Piano, Opus 78.  This piece is also performed as a choral work, which I will link to in another post.






Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'ConnorFlannery: 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.



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Until next time...

13 comments:

  1. I really need to read O'Connor. Your post makes me want to do so more. It is interesting how sometimes recognition sometimes does not come from ones own family, even when it seems very well deserved and comes from somewhere else.

    Have a great week!

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    1. Hi Brian. And I guess in O'Connor's case it's just as well since she made some pretty unflattering depictions of her mother.

      Have a wonderful week, also!

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  2. as you know, RT likes her writing... not my taste, though... she had a not very happy life and it shows in her writing as you said... i read a short story of hers which was okay until everyone died by gunshot... frankly i didn't see much point in reading any more of her work, even though she's regarded pretty highly... just my peculiar preferences i guess...

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    1. My husband says that she just needed more hugs. He was being sarcastic, but I know what he means. She certainly had a morbid sense of humor.

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    2. maybe Josh was kidding, but i think he's right about that... a little love goes a long way, sometimes... and sometimes that means just accepting people the way they are...

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    3. I agree, mudpuddle. In fact, on my drive home from work (which is on a mostly deserted highway for forty minutes) I was thinking about friendship and how we get along best with people we don't know very well. It seems once people start to get to know us, or we them, we have to start practicing patience with each other's faults and that can be hard to do.

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    4. that's a deep observation, meaning that below it are a bunch of questions like, why does war happen, what are the sources of revenge, love, egoism, selfishness, charity, etc. why are people the way they are? in effect... that leads to spiritualism, magic, religion, various sorts of psychology, etc. i'm afraid i have (well i've known it for about 70 years ) an eclectic brain: it sucks in all sorts of data and makes connections between them; not a trait that has served me well; in fact has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years when i've missed the details and dwelt on the overall picture... haha

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    5. We must not lose sight of the fact that O’Connor was a Catholic writer; that theology influences her writing, and any reader of her works will be lost without that key. BTW, I mean Catholic rather than simply Christian or religious; Catholicism is a singular lens.

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    6. tx, rt... i'm not sure what that might mean, but i'll take your word for it... don't know if i could take much of her writing, though... i'm not strong enough for it...

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    7. Hi R.T. I would love to read anything by someone who analyzed O'Connor's work in light of her religious beliefs. That would prove insightful.

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    8. Hi Mudpuddle. In regard to your last comment, which I probably should not be writing about right now because it's late and I've been out of town and have had maybe three hours of sleep and about five gallons of coffee, but I will simply say that it does strike me that the best liked people are those that say very little and keep themselves rather blank. That allows other people to fill out their personality according to their inclinations.

      It can be harrowing, though, for a people pleaser like me. I worry that if I let too much of myself slip out, then the other person may lose interest. I'm very much a Labrador Retriever.

      Yet I do find people very interesting, so I do not mind if they want to share their lives with me, even if they never ask me any questions about myself.

      And of course there are those rare gems that know me well, like to listen to me and love me anyway. If we have only a couple of people like that for friends, life is good.

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    9. Sharon and Mudpuddle ... re: O'Connor and Catholicism, see my latest posting: https://rtdsmarginaliablog.blogspot.com/2019/02/flannery-oconnor-prophetic-vision-and.html

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    10. i definitely agree with all that... i'm anti-bull-in-a-china-shop prone also...

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I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.