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Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor Paperback – March 15, 2010
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From The New Yorker
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Born on March 25, 1925 in Savannah of Irish Catholic parents, Edward and Regina O'Connor, Flannery lived there until she was thirteen when the family moved to Milledgeville, Georgia. Her beloved father died in 1941 at the young age of 45 of lupus, the disease that would eventually kill Flannery. She attended Georgia State College for Women in Milledgeville, then the Iowa Writers' Workshop and Yaddo, the artists' colony in upstate New York. Stricken with lupus at 25, O'Connor returned to Milledgeville and lived there for the rest of her too short life-- she died at the age of 39--with her mother on a dairy farm surrounded by peacocks and other animals as well as both black and white farmworkers, some of whom would become models for the "freaks" she wrote about in her fiction.Read more ›
Only last summer I was looking through the holdings at the local library and was disappointed at the lack of biographical works on O'Connor. And six months later, here we are with Brad Gooch's brand new biography. It's astonishing to me that this is the first major biography for such a major and influential twentieth-century writer. (As compared to the few biographies that were part of a series on major authors that were best used as references for students - but what about the rest of us?) O'Connor died in 1964 so this book has been a long time coming and it's been worth the wait.
Gooch, whose biography of the poet Frank O'Hara (another subject with a life cut short) was a great achievement, has written an accessible and thoroughly entertaining work on the short life but indelible career of one of my favorite authors. The background on O'Connor and her writing is invaluable as is the insight into how many characters in her stories were inspired by her own mother, Regina including the memorable, doomed Mrs. May from "Greenleaf." Gooch gives us more insight into the "Southern Catholic writer," showing us the fascinating woman whose knowledge of her impending fate spurred her into producing some amazing fiction.Read more ›
Like many readers of my generation (graduated high school 1978), I had a good introduction to Miss O'Connor's short stories - sprung on us with relish by an English teacher from the South. Compared with most of the other materials we were covering those stories were shocking to say the least. Over the years I wondered what kind of life the author must have led to produce those stories - both the hard edges and the evident spirtuality they contained. We (those outside the literary world) did not know much about O'Connor in that era - only that she was a serious Roman Catholic and had died young after a long fight with Lupus.
Brad Gooch's exhaustive research surely paid off as he fills in the details - about her family life, her medical conditions, her spirtual life and both the joys and difficulties of her writing. Perhaps what surprised me the most were the legion of friends and fans this very unusual women attracted living, as she did, a rather quiet life in a generally quiet place.
Professor Gooch provides his readers with a very vivid portrait of Miss O'Connor's struggles - and how her faith and her sickness found their way into her works. As a Roman Catholic myself, reflecting on Miss O'Connor's strong faith in the face of her difficulties through this biography seemed very fitting for Lent.
I suspect, based upon the lengthy acknowledgements and sources cited (these should certainly be read) that Professor Gooch could have written a far longer book. I am glad he did not. The size, scope and pacing were all excellent.
I commend this biography to any one who ever wondered about Flannery O'Connor or, indeed, the American literary scene after the War.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
very valuable enhancement to reading O'Connor and just plain enjoyable. The understanding of literary friendships-- reviews/suggested revisions by fellow writers, the mentoring,... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Dr. S.
This is a great book! I knew nothing of Miss O'Connor's writing. I bought the book because Mr. Gooch wrote it. Read morePublished 10 months ago by ma morgan
Gooch's biography of Flannery O'Connor is a beautiful testament to one of the greatest short-story writers of the 20th century. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Matthew Dougherty
Book is great so far. Again, I have to say I did not expect the book to be a library discard. It was from DeVry University in Florida. Read morePublished 14 months ago by WJS
Excellent insight into the life and times of a great American woman novelist.Published 14 months ago by Rosemary Chinnici
I enjoyed the book so much. It is well-written and researched. I became even more fond of Flannery O'Connor as I read this book. Read morePublished 19 months ago by medievalReader