Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Flannery O'Connor Messes With My Head

I had a friend in college, an English major, talk about how great Flannery O'Connor was. It was filed somewhere in my head. A few years ago I subscribed to Mars Hill Audio and one of their guests talked about her, too. Finally, I was working on a reading list that would take me through both Christian and non-Christian classic literature. She popped up again on one of the lists I was using. So I purchased A Good Man is Hard to Find at Barnes & Noble.

I've read the first three of ten short stories and I don't know how to describe the stories. They're strange, severe, and haunting. While she's a Catholic writer, I don't think you'll find her stuff at your local Bible bookstore. I'm no critic, but her writing isn't something I enjoy in the sense that it is a nice diversion. I enjoy it because I keep thinking about it - and that's the same reason I don't like it. I can't seem to get it out of my head until I "get" a particular story.

The first couple stories made left me with an uncomfortable, "Wow." Not "Wow!" Just "Wow." But the third story, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," still left me uncomfortable, but also puzzled, wondering what she's trying to get at. I found some university students giving their best shot, which was helpful, but I'm still searching for some authoritative conclusion. Any ideas?

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