There is a moment in Chapter 4 of The Bark of the Bog Owl that makes me cringe a little bit. Aidan and Dobro have gotten mixed up with a panther, which “bared its fangs and wailed a deep rumbling moan that became a piercing scream.” It’s not a bad description, but it’s not what I wrote. The panther wasn’t supposed to wail. Panthers waul. It’s the perfect verb for what panthers do. But a well-meaning editor at B&H Publishing Group changed waul to wail (ju
Recycling from a couple of years ago…
It’s Ash Wednesday. Yesterday my friend Father Thomas, an Anglican priest, burned the palm fronds from last year’s Palm Sunday to make the ashes to rub on people’s foreheads today. “Remember that you are dust,” he will say to them, “and to dust you shall return.”
I didn’t grow up observing Ash Wednesday or Lent, but I have to say, at this age it helps to be reminded that I am dust and returning to dust. It’s not just a help, but a comfort.
Rosa Parks, after the boycott
I’m terribly sorry about my absence right in the middle of the Summer Reading Club. I hope to circle back around to the stories we missed–”Greenleaf,” “A View of the Woods,” and “The Enduring Chill.” Meanwhile, I figured it was best just to pick up with the story that was scheduled for this week.
Flannery O’Connor referred to “Everything that Rises Must Converge” as “my reflection on the race situation.” Indeed, though race figures into most
I’m at the beach this week, so I’ll keep this short and rely on you, dear reader, to do the heavy lifting–which you often do anyway.
The irony in “Good Country People” is thick and layered. The joke is on Joy-Hulga, and it is an especially mean joke–or, in any case, it appears to be. But the episode in the hayloft, ironically, is also an offer of grace. Hulga has poured her whole self into that wooden leg (I’ll let you work out all the symbolism contained therein). It’s what she has i
Happy Wednesday, FOC summer reading clubbers, and forgive my tardiness in posting this week. I haven’t relished the thought of having the “n-word” prominently displayed on my blog for all search engines to find. But it probably is time we addressed the question of race in O’Connor’s fiction.
By way of entry into the question of race, I will tell you a story about the editorial process for my forthcoming O’Connor biography, The Terrible Speed of Mercy (which, I recently learned, h
What do you make of the fact that the local preachers band together to shut down the carnival at the end of “A Temple of the Holy Ghost”? It seems clear that the freak show (or, in any case, a second-hand account of the freak show) brings our young protagonist closer to a place where she is ready for the Eucharist to do its work on her. That being the case, there is a certain irony in the preachers shutting the thing down. On the other hand, if part of the preachers’ job is to raise the moral
For those who view Flannery O’Connor’s fiction as a freak show, “A Temple of the Holy Ghost” would appear to be Exhibit A. Its most memorable scene describes a hermaphrodite in an actual carnival freak show. But O’Connor doesn’t offer up the hermaphrodite simply as an object of curiosity for gawkers and voyeurs. She doesn’t, in other words, offer up this freak in the spirit of the freak show. The hermaphrodite, to my way of thinking, is surprisingly human, a figure of pathos and even a strang
Earlier this week, Madeleine asked the following question:
Did FO write these stories with all sorts of symbols and hidden meanings like a rich treasure hunt waiting for persistent readers, or was she writing good stories with some meat to chew on? I’m just wondering if I should be thinking every detail is important to extra meaning or just a detail important to setting a mood or a backdrop for her story. (And yes, the answer can be both, but some writers lean more one way or the othe
In the summer of 1953, Flannery O’Connor’s mother Regina hired a new farm laborer named Matysiak. He and his family moved into one of the houses at Andalusia, the O’Connor’s dairy farm. Originally from Poland, the Matysiaks were among the millions of Europeans who were left homeless at the end of World War II. Thousands of these “Displaced Persons” ended up in the United States, and a few of them made their way to Middle Georgia.
The Matysiaks seemed to work out well enough at Andalus
I hope you have had a chance to read through the discussion on “The River” over the last couple of days. It has been extremely insightful and lively–and also courteous, I might add. One thing that has become evident is that a reader’s interpretation of the story’s end hinges on how that reader understands the baptism–big Bevel baptizing little Bevel. If that is a true baptism, then Harry/Bevel’s being pulled down by the river at the end is a rescue from the clutches of Mr. Paradise. If it is