Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Friend Flannery

If you've never read Flannery O'Connor's short stories, you're seriously missing out. I first apprehended a copy of A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories as a high school student. I was participating in an academic competition called literary criticism (whew, what a joke!), and her book was one of the required readings.

If you've read ole Flan, you know straight off that she's TAH-WISTED! In fact, whenever I teach an Intro to Lit class I ALWAYS teach O'Connor because I love seeing the tops of their little heads pop off.

And she looks so mild-mannered and unassuming over there, doesn't she?

This morming I happened to run across Impertinent Questions with Brad Gooch which is an excellent Q&A with none other than....Brad Gooch! Who is he? An O'Connor biographer, and a pretty funny/snarky one, too. It's only right that any Flan biographer would be a good time.

One particular question and answer really tickled my giggle button:

Q: O’Connor has been called a master of the short story. What makes hers work?

A: For O’Connor, writing short stories was an extreme sport. She used shock and surprise to masterful effect. You start out reading about a lazy day on a farm and before you can think twice a Bible salesman has stolen the wooden leg of a young lady in a hayloft.

So if you haven't read the story he's alluding to here, it's "Good Country People," and it is a HOOT. Go HERE to read a PDF of it.

Flannery O'Connor's delicious Southern Gothic weirdness was one of those early'ish reading experiences that has followed me throughout my adult life and that I strive to pass along to my own students. It was a fantastic realization when it dawned on me that "good" literature didn't have to be all stuffy. In fact, it could be downright crazy and impertinent.

Note: I think I got the Q&A link from Twitter, but I can't rememer who passed it along for the life of me, and now I can't find it again. Thanks to whoever inspired me this morning!

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