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Showing 1-10 of 264 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 353 reviews
on July 13, 2015
My admiration for Flannery O'Connor knows no bounds. I bought this book despite already having the collections 'A Good Man is Hard to Find' and 'Everything That Rises Must Converge' on my Kindle. Together they make up most of this book. The blurb says there are 12 stories not in the famous collections. But there it was on a daily deal for $2.99. Sometimes I buy these things just to encourage the company to offer more. But O'Connor has a special place in my heart. She saw the South like nobody else. Her language is so precise as she lays out the messy lives of her characters! I can easily believe that lesser writers read her 'for inspiration'. If you haven't read Flannery O'Conor buy this book, even at full price. If you think you're 'creative', it may change your life.
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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 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 April 17, 2015
This is an excellent, wide ranging collection of short stories. There are so many really excellent and entertaining short stories in this work, I hardly know where to begin. It amazes me that Flannery O'Connor is not placed among the very top of American authors. But in truth, i almost never hear anyone mention her name.

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit I was unfamiliar with Flannery O'Connor until the last few years. I attribute this to the fact that she is not discussed contemporaneously with other American iconic authors. I first heard of her when I was studying a book on literature by Harold Bloom and he discussed her work. I had begun reading work by William Faulkner and at first was unsettled by his style. Slowly I have begun to gain an appreciation the genre of "Southern Gothic". Flannery O'Connor has her own style which includes, but is not limited to Southern Gothic.

Flannery O'Connor has a wry sense of ironic humor which manifests itself throughout her work and can suddenly emerge out of nowhere and surprise the reader. An example of this is the short story "The Crop". At the same time some of her short stories stun me with their violence. Sometimes the two combine as at the end of "A Good Man is Hard to Find". I am not learned enough to know where to place Flannery O'Connor compared to other Southern Gothic authors, but she may be my favorite, with Harper Lee and Carson McCullers close behind.
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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 March 3, 2015
The greatest accomplishment of O'Connor's writing is that she makes you think. She begs you to look inside yourself as you read her stories and ask yourself hard questions IF you dare or are brave enough. Am I like that? Have I done that or said that or thought like that??? Then she asks you to destroy that wrong thinking. A great author with a deeply intellectual and spiritual mind that shows so clearly in these Simple Stories about life.
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on May 10, 2014
Flannery O'Connor writes telling vignettes with conviction and religious fervor. She tells tales of the consequences of small minds—minds who would institutionalize their prejudice to insulate their world in a limited reality. This collection of her best short stories will stick with you. Her characters are uncanny and their world described with excruciating detail. My fear that her works might be avoided or censored in our politically correct society due to her language, was affirmed when amazon censored my previous review. Words shock. Racism shocked and angered Flannery, and her words pass along that distaste of prejudice to the reader. The title of my favorite piece—sanitized through a P.C. filter— would be called "The Artificial African-American", and not have the same impact that Miss O'Connor intended.
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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 January 9, 2013
It takes a while to warm up to her style. But once you do (if you do...) she's a beautiful and powerful writer.
I was struggling to read the first few stories, and was about to give her up, but after a while I changed my mind completly. I've read about 15 stories (starting with her latest and going back), but now I am impatient to read all of them.

A small issue may be the occasional deep Southern dialect. It's simple though - if you don't understand, just read it aloud. Another is that some sentences don't quite make sense. Then try to look at her prose as a kind of poetry - it helps.

And of course the worst is that her stories are deeply disturbing. Most of her characters are extremely unlikable, and they usually meet a bitter end. You won't like it, but I'm sure she didn't either, and that's exactly why she was writing about it, a stinging satire of her times and culture.
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on December 8, 2015
I was first introduced to Flannery O'Connor as a freshman in high school, and I've been hooked ever since. Her stories are often dark and they really suck you in. Her writing style is to the point and easy to read. When you read her stories like A Good Man is Hard to Find or The Life You Save May Be Your Own, they'll be stuck with you forever. I couldn't recommend this collection more.
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