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on May 8, 2016
Either you adore her work or you hate it. For me, she is the favorite of all favorites. Dark and bizarre but at the same time hilariously funny. There is no author I have re-read as much. As weird as the characters are, I can see myself in most of them.
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on May 31, 2013
Ever since I came upon "The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor" (while serving in the military overseas) this collection has been an integral part of my life. All of the stories have something of value in them, even the weaker ones; but an attentive reading of the best ones will leave an indelible impression: for example, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find", "Good Country People", "A View of the Woods", "The Enduring Chill", "Revelation". Some readers find O'Connor's fiction depressing but I do not. I never have. I enjoy these stories, savor them and return to them again and again. An important point to consider is that O'Connor's characters are usually damnable but are rarely, if ever, actually damned. A theology of hope-for-all permeates her fiction.

Of all these stories, I think it's "The Displaced Person" that pleases me most. Its length is less than a novel but it has about it the moral, historical and spiritual proportions of a great epic. Its ironic rendering of human folly and ignorance comes across with patient objectivity and humor, and so free of contempt as to seem miraculous. It's a rare writer who can portray such rustic or insufferable characters so believably on the one hand; but on the other, free of the taint of hatred or even condescension.
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on October 12, 2012
So . . . how am I going to summarize over 30 short stories in one volume that run the gamut (what is a gamut anyway) of highly disturbing to deeply inspiring to truly annoying? Since Flannery O'Connor is in that "classic" category and I am not a literary critic, here is my advice to fellow "regular guy (or girl)" readers:

You can't make it through this volume without taking breaks away from this book. I plowed through half of it and that was too much. I had to go to Colorado and drive back home to New Jersey with my family to get it out of my head. So I would suggest alternating these stories with lighter fare, or trips to Colorado if you can.

The second half was easier for me . . . I think maybe because Flannery doesn't seem to kill off all of her characters in the second half . . .

The single story "Revelation" was worth all of the time I spent on this book. My second favorite was . . . oops . . . Amazon won't let me print the title . . .

I got this book out of my interest in Southern history and culture. What I got from it was incredibly deep, affecting, surreal yet crudely realistic portrayals of people in all of their hypocritical, self deceptive, self destructive, self righteous, vulgar, and funny ways. I didn't know people could write like this . . . or this well.
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on December 15, 2017
Gorgeous book. Came exactly as expected (there's a lot in here, so be aware the paper is thin). Flannery O'Connor is really a classic author and her stories will stay with you for ages. I never want to post whether I 'like' or 'dislike' certain aspects on the book on Amazon because everyone has their own taste, but O'Connor is an incredible author and would serve any adult reader well. Great quality.
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on June 11, 2013
It really is pointless to write another review about one of America's greatest writers and most neglected. That should be enough of an epitaph. Yet she has been given many sobriquets, "Southern Writer," "Catholic Writer," "Early Feminist," Southern Gothic Writer," etc. She was all these but much more and happily is being celebrated in her own renaissance.

Her short stories are so unique and powerful that they must, not should, be read and re-read in short doses. Savored like good southern bourbon whisky or Thomas Aquinas or any other writer who has universal appeal and asks the profound questions.
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on March 19, 2013
Flannery O'Connor's writing style is fluid. You're not tripping over grammatical errors (at least I wasn't). She writes with a very strong voice. Whether her intention was to raise social consciousness, or whether she just had stories in her head that she had to get out, I'm not sure; but the short stories I've read to date have definitely made me think about how I treat others in my life.

These stories hit me emotionally. The racism and blatant judgementalism are shocking. Shocking not so much because they occur (although, that should be the reason), but more so because of the acceptance of such thinking. I know racism and judgementalism are still quite prevelant, but not as easily tolerated (at least not in my immediate circle). I laugh at certain scenes and am heartsick at others.
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on July 16, 2013
Flannery O'Connor is another great writer who's been sidelined by the Western literary establishment for the dumbest of reasons. Unlike Céline, she hasn't been totally written out of the history books; because O'Connor had the good fortune to be born a woman, the Beigeists begrudgingly include a couple of her short stories in the college English curriculum. But I guarantee that most of the non-humanities-majoring public has never heard her name. All of the attention goes to O'Connor's pious fraud contemporary Harper Lee.

Part of it is because O'Connor died young, wasting away from lupus not long after her 39th birthday. O'Connor was also a devout Catholic, which has been a death sentence in English-speaking countries ever since the days of Henry VIII. But the main reason why Lee is worshipped and O'Connor is ignored is because once again, Lee was an entrepreneur masquerading as a social critic. Where O'Connor was a low-key figure who spent most of her life in the rural Georgia town where she grew up, Lee moved to New York and schmoozed her way into the nation's literary elite. Her To Kill a Mockingbird is popular and beloved because it caters to the Northern left-wing establishment's self-congratulatory view of not only the South, but themselves.

Mockingbird is garbage because it absolves Lee's social class--the wealthy, upper-class elite--of their responsibility in fostering the culture of racism in the Jim Crow South. In the novel, all of Maycomb's racism emanates from the Ewells, a despised and ostracized clan of white trash who live in a tin shack behind the town dump. Atticus Finch, the town lawyer (and by extension one of the most powerful and respected men in Maycomb) is not hostile to blacks; neither is the town sheriff or the other middle-class families in town. Even the working-class families such as the Cunninghams aren't overtly and violently racist. And yet despite being the only racists in town, the poor and hated Ewells somehow wield enough influence to get a black man convicted of a crime he clearly did not commit.

That's why Mockingbird is part of every high school curriculum in America and why Wise Blood is read only by bookworms like myself; it's libelous, self-serving and reaffirms the prejudices of its leftist readers. Black people are good, middle-class white people are good, poor white people are the root of all evil, and "the loss of innocence" is a real tragedy. That's a great metric for determining whether something's worth your time; if a book or movie is described as being about "the loss of innocence," run the hell away like you're being accosted by a lesion-covered junkie wielding a syringe.

Flannery O'Connor didn't have time to tickle the fancies of Northerners; she was too busy sketching the most realistic and gripping portrait of her native land since Mark Twain passed. Like Twain, O'Connor eschewed piety and sentimentality and depicted Southerners--white or black, rich or poor, man or woman--as they were: wretched, stupid, and corrupt. In her world, no one is innocent and everyone has the blood of classism and racism on their hands, including blacks themselves. She also didn't mince words, using the n-word frequently, which to liberals is like garlic to a vampire.

O'Connor's writing is also informed by her Catholic beliefs; many of her protagonists mirror the alienation she felt growing up in a strongly Protestant land. Informed by her Catholicism, O'Connor wrote her characters with the promise of redemption. Not unlike Andy Nowicki (another Southern Catholic), O'Connor knew that even the most degenerate man or woman carried with them the possibility of repentance. It's this cocktail of wisdom and observation that makes Flannery O'Connor not only a standout in American and Western literature, but a standout among women writers period.

The Complete Stories, as the title implies, is a volume containing every short story that O'Connor ever wrote, combining all the stories from her two previous collections, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Everything That Rises Must Converge, along with several unpublished works. Her stories dovetail into every aspect of mid-20th century Southern life, from racism to classism to politics and love. No one is safe from her gaze, whether it's Old Dudley, the bitter old protagonist of "The Geranium," grumbling about his educated Northern black neighbor or Mrs. Willerton, the vapid housewife heroine of "The Crop," repeatedly trying to write a novel and failing miserably.

If you're looking for an introduction to Flannery O'Connor's work, The Complete Stories is by far your best bet. The biggest criticism I have of the collection is that several of the previously unpublished stories are redundant; O'Connor later reworked them into the plot of her first novel, Wise Blood. Nonetheless, The Complete Stories is a great read for those interested in truly talented writers.
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on April 8, 2013
O'Conner gets inside the head of people from all walks of life. She gives you a snapshot of their life through their thoughts. I have not read all the short stories yet, but the ones I have read so far follow this pattern. The stories are short enough to squeeze in when you have a few minutes. I absolutely love each one I have read. I want to read everything she has written. Look up her bio. She died very young. I wonder how she understood the thoughts of such wide and diverse people. Her writing style is amazing. I feel that I have stumbled on a gem.
I heard about Flannery O'Conner when I was in college, but never read her then. In the book Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, O'Conner's short stories were mentioned as one of her favorite books, one she loved enough to carry in her backpack along the Pacific Coast Trail. I was intrigued and owe a thanks to Strayed.
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on December 4, 2013
She's a hero to me: absolutely committed to her craft, an artist who died way too young (at 39) but made the most of every minute she was given. And yet, ironically, she never rushed herself. She would not submit anything before its time, and yet she still had an astounding humility. When working with editors and readers she trusted, she would give every informed suggestion welcome consideration, and revise accordingly. (She'd also not be shaken by ignorance, even if her work's fate was disrupted by such editors or critics.) She made an indelible impact in 1970 or '71 when I read "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," but it's only in the last year that I finally began paying closer attention by reading her collected letters in "Habit of Being" and now her collected short stories. She will always be among the most studied and respected American writers, and I wish I had paid closer attention long ago.
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on January 6, 2017
one of the most wonderful writers in my opinion. Excellent, well thought out and written. A joy to add to my collection.
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