"Who's Afraid of Flannery O'Connor?"
By Douglas Jones at Credenda/Agenda Thema:
"Yes, and it takes all kinds to make the world go round," the lady said in her musical voice.
As she said it, the raw-complexioned girl snapped her teeth together. Her lower lip turned downwards and inside out, revealing the pale pink inside her mouth. After a second it rolled back up. It was the ugliest face Mrs. Turpin had ever seen anyone make, and for a moment she was certain that the girl had made it at her. She was looking at her as if she had known and disliked her all her life — all of Mrs. Turpin's life, it seemed too, not just all the girl's life. Why, girl, I don't even know you, Mrs. Turpin said silently.
Whoever thought the Holy Spirit could look like an annoyed girl's face, "blue with acne"? Or a sassy, club-footed boy? A tattoo? Or that Christ could appear as a bull? Or a carnival hermaphrodite?
That sort of list already puts off most Christians from having an interest in O'Connor. It's just all so unnecessary and ugly, they say. It's just more violence and weirdness in a culture already permeated with it.
I've found it terribly difficult to get modern Christians to read O'Connor — even in healthy Christian communities. In my case, too, secular writers first made me sit up and notice O'Connor. They praised her technique and famous opening paragraphs. They lauded her tension and dialogue. Flannery O'Connor won several notable writing awards during her life, even while the secularists didn't really have a clue about her Christian realism.
Flannery O'Connor is easily the most important and talented and self-consciously Christian short story author of the twentieth century. Nobody else is close. I've seen her stories revolutionize people's lives, and yet most Christians have never even heard her name. Sure, many Christian academics and writers sing her praises, especially of late. But we should all know her stories inside and out; they should be easy allusions in conversation; they should be common parables in our teens' mouths. And we need to master her style and absorb her insights before the next generation can build upon her gifts....
Lane Core Jr. CIW P Sun. 07/16/06 09:09:49 AM
Categorized as Literary & More Than Readworthy.