Still chugging along with my resolution not to buy, borrow, or bum anymore books until I've read those I currently own. I've recently begun a book I've been meaning to read for three decades. The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor. I selected this next book to read as I'm trying to read more writers of faith, and O'Connor certainly qualifies. Thus far I've enjoyed everything I've read. Her stories are oozing with peculiar seeming and haloed saints. There is also danger and awkwardness galore. In fact, the word grotesque has been used quite often in my research to describe some of O'Connor's stories and characterizations. O'Connor herself describes the use of the grotesque as "the good under construction," a description that I rather like - even as a metaphor for my own life! Her stories thus far dramatize moments of crisis that can catch people off-guard, leaving them in perilous and clumsy positions...moments when grace can intervene.
Being a man born and raised in the tobacco belt of the Deep South during the civil rights movement; her characterizations, syntax, and vocabulary were all very familiar to me and my southern senses. The subjects of racism, religion, and violent reality leak through her works like water through a sieve. She once said of her stories that, "I've found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moments of grace." O'Connor may not be for those who are hyper-sensitive in this day and age of absurd political correctness and identity politics. Her writing, word choices, and subject matter are startling and disturbing in their movements toward grace and conversion, but I also found them strangely comforting as they inject absolute love into a sinful, fallen, and distorted world.
Mary Flannery O'Connor.
March 25, 1925 - August 3, 1964.
“It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.”
–C.S. Lewis, “Introduction” in St. Athanasius, De Incarnatione Verbi Dei (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1944/1993),