- Series: FSG Classics
- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First edition (January 1, 1965)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0374504644
- ISBN-13: 978-0374504649
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 83 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Everything That Rises Must Converge: Stories (FSG Classics) Paperback – January 1, 1965
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“The current volume of posthumous stories is the work of a master, a writer's writer-- but a reader's too-- an incomparable craftsman who wrote, let it be said, some of the finest stories in our language.” ―Newsweek
“All in all they comprise the best collection of shorter fiction to have been published in America during the past twenty years.” ―Theodore Solotaroff, Book Week
“When I read Flannery O'Connor, I do not think of Hemingway, or Katherine Anne Porter, or Sartre, but rather of someone like Sophocles. What more can you say for a writer? I write her name with honor, for all the truth and all the craft with which she shows man's fall and his dishonor.” ―Thomas Merton
About the Author
Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) was one of America’s most gifted writers. She wrote two novels, Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away, and two story collections, A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Everything That Rises Must Converge. Her Complete Stories, published posthumously in 1972, won the National Book Award that year, and in a 2009 online poll it was voted as the best book to have won the award in the contest's 60-year history. Her essays were published in Mystery and Manners and her letters in The Habit of Being.
Top customer reviews
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Still, her stories should be read -- for their power and for the distinctiveness of her voice. I came to O'Connor much too late in my reading career. I was staggered by her first collection of short stores, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find", when I read it about four years ago. EVERYTHING THAT RISES MUST CONVERGE is almost as good. It contains one story ("The Lame Shall Enter First") that strikes me as rough, much like a first draft (O'Connor wrote most of the stories in the book in her last years, when suffering from the Lupus that would kill her). But five of the stories are top shelf, as fine in my opinion as the best of Alice Munro, or James Joyce, or John Updike.
The stories are set primarily in rural and small-town Georgia of the late 1950's and early 1960's. Most end with a twist and in apocalyptic fashion. Three themes dominate. One is the theological. The first three stories seem Old Testament in nature, while the latter six partake of the New Testament, especially the Holy Ghost. (I can see preachers using many of these stories as texts for what could be enthralling sermons.) Another theme has to do with what I will call domestic relations, particularly those between an older parent and an adult child. For the last twelve years of her life, O'Connor lived with her widowed mother, who supposedly provided O'Connor a supportive and tranquil environment as she struggled with Lupus. However, the strained and bitterly antagonistic parent-child relationships of many of these stories make me wonder whether O'Connor's last years with her mother were truly all that peaceful for her. The third theme has to do with the relationship between blacks and whites in what was then still very much Jim Crow Georgia. These stories are not P.C. (indeed, O'Connor would have mocked, trenchantly, the very notion of P.C.), and if you are offended by the "n-word" regardless of context (much like Mark Twain and "Huckleberry Finn") you will be offended repeatedly. But as several of the stories indicate, and as one character says when he proposes to drink from the same glass as one of his mother's Negro workers, "the world is changing."
The book's title, by the way, is also the title of the first, and probably best, story. Towards the end of her life, O'Connor read a lot by the French philosopher and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. In a piece called the "Omega Point", Teilhard wrote: "Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge."
Just a warning: Use of the "N" word throughout, as most of these stories were written in the 30s, 40s and 50s. The characters are brutally honest. If you can't handle a Catholic woman making statements about Christian spirituality via very flawed characters and protestant practices, these stories are not for you.
Often uncomfortable and disconcerting, Everything That Rises Must Converge offers glimpses into the darker aspects of ordinary folks. The grotesque, the hypocrisy, and the venal are described with clear eyed and beautiful language.
Such a poet, was our Ms. O'Connor, and what a treasure is this collection.