Books by Flannery O'Connor

Released: Oct. 15, 2019

"An epistolary group portrait that will appeal to readers interested in the Catholic underpinnings of O'Connor's life and work."
Wide-ranging letters reveal deep bonds between a literary titan and her friends. Read full book review >
A PRAYER JOURNAL by Flannery O'Connor
Released: Nov. 12, 2013

"There's metaphysical mystery at the heart of this short journal, followed by a facsimile of her handwritten notebook, as well as the seeds of the spiritual life force that coursed through her fiction."
A devotional journal from the author's student days finds her grappling with issues of Christian spirituality that would soon inform her fiction. Read full book review >
Released: June 3, 1995

This collection of short stories by the southerner whose first novel Wise Blood appeared in 1952 is more likely to attract readers who want to follow Miss O'Connor's writing progress rather than those who favor fiction in this form. Miss O'Connor is not really a short story writer. She seems to need more space to develop her characters and to point this up- her best story is the longest in the book, The Displaced Person. In this, a southern farm is seen as a community of uprooted people- all fighting for security in their own ways, and a kind of understanding and sympathy is developed for each with tragic success. The River, the ironic fragment- A Stroke of Good Fortune- and A Circle in the Fire (second prize in Doubleday's Prize Stories 1955 collection) are among the best here, while some- including the title story- are the skimpiest of sketches, and again still others do not have room enough to develop beyond what it seems was in the author's mind. Many of these have appeared in the Kenyor Review. Harper's Bazaar, and the New Yorker, and will cater to eclectic tastes. Read full book review >
THE HABIT OF BEING by Flannery O'Connor
Released: March 16, 1979

Flannery O'Connor's best fiction seemed almost pre-grooved, as though she merely poured ink—and vividness—into grooves of mysterious life that were already whitely there. Being Southern, being Catholic, and being ill had a lot to do with that, and these hundreds of letters give O'Connor's tough, funny, careful personality to us more distinctly and movingly than any biography probably would. The idea of the spinster lady with lupus living cut off from the world in Milledgeville, Georgia, a primitive who raised peahens and a queer kind of ruckus—religious and weird—in her fiction, is dispelled. She was at home with the foremost literary figures of the day: Lowell, the Tates, Elizabeth Bishop, J. F. Powers, John Hawkes. She took no guff about finances connected with her work. She asked for criticism and accepted or discarded it according to its merits. She was conservative and anti-integrationist. Besieged by collegiate requests for clarifications of her work, she became weary, testy, revealing: "I have to sit down and write a graduate student in Cleveland who wants to know why my stories are grotesque; are they grotesque because I am showing the frustration of grace? It's very hard to tell these innocents that they are grotesque because that's the nature of my talent." Another side to her talent is an almost astonishing directness. In the letters, this is often found in humor, but the point is never lost. In a series of letters over ten years time to a woman identified as only "A.," O'Connor writes a kind of spiritual biography of a Catholic writer. "I am only interested in a fiction of miracles." She recalls a dinner where Mary McCarthy blathered on about the Host being a marvelous symbol, and prompted O'Connor's: "Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it." When A. leaves the Church, O'Connor mourns in her fashion, trying to convince her friend that if Jesus weren't God, she—O'Connor—would want to have nothing to do with him. Throughout, there are only the lightest, self-deprecating remarks about her debilitating, finally fatal illness: a refusal to let it slow her, and for every physical blow, her mind and outlook and literary assurance getting reactively tougher. Remarkable and inspiring. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1971

The thirty-one stories of the late Flannery O'Connor, collected for the first time. In addition to the nineteen stories gathered in her lifetime in Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965) and A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955) there are twelve previously published here and there. Flannery O'Connor's last story, "The Geranium," is a rewritten version of the first which appears here, submitted in 1947 for her master's thesis at the State University of Iowa. Read full book review >
MYSTERY AND MANNERS by Flannery O'Connor
Released: May 12, 1969

Flannery O'Connor's "Occasional Prose," here selected and edited by Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, includes a number of essays and lectures which are not only crucial in understanding her particular creative venue and vision but obligatory in understanding the the quintessential aspects of the novel or the short story. Of these, "The Nature and Aim of Fiction" and "Writing Short Stories" expand on the meaning of the book's title: Flannery O'Connor felt that the "mystery of our position on earth" is the heart of any fictional experience and that manners, or what she called the texture of existence, should reveal it. Other pieces deal with more specific aspects of writing or of being a Southern writer (Miss O'Connor maintained a definite literary Mason-Dixon line, opposing the Southern grotesques with their Northern equivalents—the man in the grey flannel suit) or of being a Catholic writer, and certainly all of her work attested to the artistic seriousness of purpose and spiritual convictions which are articulated here. With occasional lighter moments—the charming introductory piece on her peafowl, and even more occasional humor (". . . a Georgia author is a rather specious dignity, on the same order, as, for the pig, being a Talmadge ham"). This posthumous collection should not be confined to the author's enduring admirers—these are affirmations and illuminations of the innate creative experience—a special state of grace which a few writers, like Miss O'Connor, achieved. Read full book review >
Released: May 25, 1965

These short stories by the late young Southerner evidence Miss O'Connor's brilliance of style and intensity of statement as to the dilemma of man. Imprisoned within his demonic posturings and vestigial innocence, man is driven to a feverish struggle with his own condition. Occasionally the protagonist, earthbound, catches a glimpse of the eternal stars, or leaving life, is held in a purity of existence, a lonely and arid apex, where convergence admits no further ascent. In these stories men battle their mothers or wives, cursing and flailing away at maternally cozened failures; women alone fight for salvation, for justice. Inevitably violence slides over rebellion like a glacier — the mother, the thin Southern landscape, the social anathemas fall away, and the damned are turned on themselves to flounder in guilt, in blind bestiality, or to suffer half-knowledge in silence, or isolation. Only from children a freshness flowers — a little girl resists her grandfather's rapacity over a generous nature; a young boy yearns purely for his dead mother. However, they too are destroyed, for like adults, they are used and ill-used children. These are "Southern" stories since they reflect views of a unique social structure, race relations, the Southern "mystique," but the submerged comment, intuition of character, bits of rich humor proceed naturally from a vision sharp and whole. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 24, 1959

In her first novel — Wise Blood and in a collection of short stories — A Good Man is Hard to Find Flannery O'Connor manifested, along with her obvious talent, a penchant for the grotesque. If one wishes, this novel — an exercise in the macabre — can be read as an allegory: a struggle for a soul, a conflict between evils. When his great uncle died at the breakfast table Francis Marion Tarwater, 14, too drunk to bury him, fired his house and set out for the city to find out how much of what the old man had told him was true. The old man, who said he was a prophet, had kidnapped the boy from his uncle, baptized him, and raised Tarwater to expect the Lord's call himself. Rayber, Tarwater's uncle, a schoolteacher, had, himself, received the old man's indelible mark but he had repudiated his fate and married a woman from the Department of Welfare, twice his age. They had one child: an idiot. When Tarwater met the schoolteacher's dim and ancient idiot. When Tarwater met the schoolteacher's dim and ancient idiot child, Bishop, he knew that he was expected to baptize him — to carry on his great uncle's mission. The battle begins: between the schoolteacher's belief in nothing and the old man's fanaticism. Finally Tarwater succumbs to the tide of his heritage, baptizes and drowns Bishop and goes forth to the dark city "where the children of God lay sleeping". As a specialist in southern horror stories Miss O'Connor's attitude has been wry, her preferences perverse, her audience special. Read full book review >