The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”
Ahhh, the joy of a writer who uses similes effectively; more than effectively. O’Connor’s similes deepen the meaning, intensifying everything else. Writers, if your book is on my Cringe-Worth-Simile-Hall-of-Fame shelf on Goodreads, please read some O’Connor and see how it’s done. O’Connor’s powers of description are some of the most impressive I’ve seen, such as, “She looked at nice young men as if she could smell their stupidity.” Sentences you reread with a smile because they’re just that good.
Irony reigns in this complete collection, along with violence and characters who are almost savagely real. These stories are dark. O’Connor show us the light of the world by painting the dark spots.
I don’t think I’ve ever read the word nigger so much in my life. I almost didn’t read the rest of the book after the first story (“The Geranium”), it bothered me so much. But one must realize it was the nomenclature of the time, as were the racist attitudes themselves (which the author herself seems not to share, thankfully).
I’ve always been hard to please when it comes to short stories. I think they are difficult to do well. I am well pleased; there is some powerful stuff here. My favorite was “Everything That Rises Must Converge” (a deft treatment of bigotry and obliviousness), but “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” “Good Country People,” and a later reworking of “The Geranium” called “Judgement Day” are not to be missed.