Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Bookmarks – Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor

FOself2Brad Gooch has done a great deal of research on O'Connor (in my mind one of America's most important writers), and has produced a biography that should satisfy the scholar and the vaguely curious. The book reads sometimes like a novel and sometimes like the gossip page of a small town newspaper. It does shed a great of light on the writer's work and habits, and certainly the ideas behind her art.
O'Connor's life was beautiful and sad, a study in  itself of suffering and faith, even without her powerful prose. This book gives insight into her childhood, including the relationship with her father, whose death profoundly affected her. We also get snapshots of her life as a college student and cartoonist, as well as her brief time away from Andulsia (the family farm she spent almost all of her adulthood). Only a tiny bit of this information has been available before, and only to a handful of scholars. flannery--odd
Seen here also is the strained and difficult relationship between O'Connor and her mother. Gooch does not pull any punches concerning Regina O'Connor, but is also more sympathetic than one might expect. Readers also get interesting information about Betty Hester, known for years as “A,” a woman whose correspondence with O'Connor tells us much about not only the writer, but the Christian.
Anyone interested in O'Connor would do well to read this book. But this story is also for those who want to read about one America's most under-recognized and often misunderstood thinkers. It will certainly become required reading for any O'Connor scholar, but it is a darn good story for the rest of us plain folk too.

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