The Problem with Flannery

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I’m in the throes of writing a biography of Flannery O’Connor. Since I’ve been working on this project, I’ve talked to a good many people who feel that they are supposed to like (or at least appreciate) Flannery O, but they just don’t see what there is to like or appreciate. Just the other day I was talking to a guy (I won’t tell you his name, but I will tell you he’s planning to build a spaceship in the fall) who said something to this effect: “I’ve read Flannery O’Connor, and I just don’t get it. People are always saying how great she is, but her stories are so dark, I can’t see any hope or grace in them.” People like that are the audience I picture as I write this book: intelligent, well-read people who just aren’t feeling the love for Flannery. I’m out to win some of them over.

I suspect there are a good many of you among the readership of this august website. So, would you do me a favor? In the comments to this post, would you ask some specific questions about Flannery O or her work? Or try to articulate what you don’t get about her? I want to know: What’s your problem with Flannery?

By the way, I’m not offering to address your remarks today in this forum. I’m covered up with book-writing. But your questions and remarks will help shape this little biography of Flannery O’Connor. Thanks in advance for your willingness to take part.

Jonathan Rogers is the author of The Terrible Speed of Mercy, one of the finest biographies of Flannery O’Connor we've ever read. His other books include the Wilderking Trilogy–The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secret of the Swamp King, and The Way of the Wilderking–as well as The World According to Narnia and a biography of Saint Patrick. He has spent most of his adult life in Nashville, Tennessee, where he and his wife Lou Alice are raising a houseful of robustious children.