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The Terrible Speed of Mercy: A Spiritual Biography of Flannery O'Connor
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The Terrible Speed of Mercy: A Spiritual Biography of Flannery O'Connor

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  89 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Flannery O'Connor's fiction is a reminder that the rural South is as good a place as any for transcendence to break through and reveal itself to the human gaze.

The story of Flannery O'Connor's life is the story of her inner life more than her outer life. In a letter to a friend she wrote, "My audience are the people who think God is dead. At least these are the people I am
ebook, 208 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Thomas Nelson (first published June 12th 2012)
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
I do not know why this is called a "spiritual biography." A biography I imagine to be a story of one's life, from beginning to end, from infancy to maturity, old age and death. Flannery O'Connor, however, seemed to be as Catholic as she was born when she died not yet 40. There had been no ups and downs in it, or the swaying from belief to unbelief and back. No dark nights of the soul. Maybe calling this a "spiritual" biography was just an excuse for its brevity? So no one can criticize it as a h ...more
S Suzanne
I wanted a refresher about FOC after reading All the Rises Must converge after at least a decade, and reading The Violent Bear It Away for the first time.

She is an inspiring person for keeping her spirits and humor as sharp as she did through the ordeal of her last decade of life, ending before she hit 40. The book makes a point that the last thing she ever wanted was to self-dramatize over her illness(es). She always downplayed her fragile state/ or brushed the subject away with humor, and pray
I loved this and will read it again, but it took me a while to get into it. The first seven chapters read like a standard biography, not particularly insightful if you're already familiar with O'Connor's childhood and adolescence. The second half of the book is pure gold though, as Rogers delves into the spiritual nature of O'Connor's life as an author and the development of her prophetic voice through her work. He relies heavily on letters that were exchanged between O'Connor and several close ...more
Becky Pliego
Now I really want to read The Habit of Being.

Two quotes:

"For O'Connor, the real horror was never violence or deformity, but damnation. Horror that awakens a soul to its own danger and prepares it to receive grace is no horror, but a mercy." (J. Rogers)

"I distrust pious phrases, particularly when they issue from my mouth." (Flannery O'Connor)
I first was exposed to Flannery O'Connor's writings in college. I was immediately impressed with her stories and read as many as I could at that time. Someone mentioned this book to me, so I thought I'd read it, get a sort of backyard view of the woman who wrote such harsh, sardonic stories.

This wasn't exactly what I'd call a spiritual biography. It was more of an overview of O'Connor's life, with the first fifth of the book glossing over her childhood and the last four fifths of it summarizing
M.G. Bianco
Great book about a fascinating person. The five star rating may have more to do with who the book was about than how the book was written. Not sure you could write a book about Flannery O'Connor that gets less than five stars!

I really enjoyed the organization of the book, and how he brought into the story her novels, short stories, letters, and other correspondence to tell us as much as he could about the character of this woman. This is a great book--especially if you are looking for an introdu
Jed Park
I would probably give this book 3 stars except it was about O'Connor who is one of my favorite authors. Rogers gives the reader insight into the great author's life by interacting with letters written to various people that came into O'Connor's life. As readers we want to know "who was this great artist and what is she about in her writing?" Rogers lets O'Connor answer those questions herself by quoting from her letters and stories. O'Connors attitudes towards race have always perplexed me, and ...more
This book increased my respect for O'Connor and has made me want to read more of her work.
A concise but engaging summary of the life of Flannery O'Connor, mostly drawn from her intellectual and social correspondence. Perhaps the worst feature of literary-based biographers is their ability to give readers a false sense of understanding an author apart from their works, and here is where I felt this biography truly outstrips most of its class. Rather than seeking to satisfy the reader with an over-inflated sense of 'knowing' the subject, Rogers does an admirable job whetting the reader ...more
Michael David
I was first exposed to Flannery O'Connor about a year ago, when I was able to pick up her Collected Stories at a second-hand bookstore. 'A Good Man is Hard to Find' deeply affected me when I read it: since it was one of her most anthologized stories, I read it first and was both impressed and dismayed by the ending. This was, most definitely, uncompromising Catholic literature.

I'd be full of myself if I said that I understood all of what I read from Flannery O'Connor, but it's amazing how she p
Love Flannery O'Connor, though I'd never read a biography of her. I had read Habit of Being, her collection of letters, and I appreciated how Rogers referred to her letters. She is so witty that to allow her to speak for herself as much as possible is a wise decision on his part. Having someone connect the dots and make clear chronology and relationships was very helpful. I laughed out loud, gasped, and cried (just a little), and I am usually not a big fan of biography. Very well done.
D. Ryan
A lot of fun to read. Jonathan Rogers makes you feel like you've visited Midgeville and does es a great job of showing how O'Connor perceived of God and of her faith and how it connected with her fiction. Also, the biography reveals O'Connor's sweet sense of humor and delightful sarcasm.

Although I read stories by O'Connor in lit classes, it was many years later before I became aware that she incorporated her faith into her work. As I read comments praising this spinster southern writer I wanted to learn more about her and her writing. A year or so back I enjoyed two of her story collections: A Good Man Is Hard To Find and All That Rises Must Converge. Her characters and plots were grotesque yet transcendent.

This book was very helpful in understanding this gifted writer. From h
Dawn Weaver
A surprising story because her genteel life is so different from the stories she creates. And yet, this biography confirms the reason for her sometimes grisly stories. They reveal the depravity of man quite starkly and this was her intent all along.
Patrick S
Dec 17, 2012 Patrick S rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Believers who wanna know what her deal is.
Recommended to Patrick by: The author
Loved this, esp after 3+ mos of school reading. Heard Jonathan Rogers at Hutchmoot 2011, met, he's also a Furman alum, I just took a course that's all O'Connor. Bottom line: This book hits the sweet spot for pleasure reading that's also highly enriching and more than potentially useful, since I plan to teach some FOC to high schoolers before long.

Listen to JR talk to Andrew Osenga about why O'Connor's cool in general, but esp for any Christian who likes to read. An easy-going 30 minutes.
Fantastic introduction to O'Connor. Thoroughly enjoyable and illuminating. Really helps the reader understand the ideas O'Connor tried to convey, and how she tried to convey them.
This is the first book I have read about Flannery O'Connor, and I had not previously read anything written by her either. This was my introduction to her and I found it to be one of the best biographies I have ever read. A very quick, interesting, well written, and informative book. It incited me to purchase here collected works of which I have read one short story and have begun "Wise Blood." I am enjoying Flannery O'Connor's writing as much as I expected after this great introduction to her li ...more
Matt B.
I know the story of Flannery O'Connor pretty well. In fact, I figure the only ones who know it better get paid to. This book kept my attention anyway, to the point of my ignoring the kids so I could sit down with it. How the author seemed to go so deep in so few pages is beyond me, but I'm grateful for it. It's an easy read for those less acquainted and still riveting for those of us who have her stories and life bouncing about our heads on a regular basis.
Kevin Costello
I love Flannery O'Connor and am a Catholic; therefore, I was looking forward to reading this book. I'm not sure how it was a "spiritual biography.
I read this after "Everything thing that Rises Must Converge" and before "The Violent Bear it Away". It was very helpful to gain insight into O'Connor. I would recommend anyone who has read or wants to read Flannery O'Connor to read this at some point.
Sean Brage
A wonderful biography of one of our best. Particularly refreshing is the understanding that Ms. O'Connor wrote what she did precisely because of her commitment to the Church, and not in spite of it as many of her readers imply to this day.
My only beef with this book was the editing. Come on Thomas Nelson! You can afford to pay people who actually read and find typos.
Great book. I have loved O'Connor for a long time and this book confirmed so many of those reasons.

Great insight into the mind of true Southern gothic author.
Jan 11, 2013 Jan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes or is interested in Flannery O'Connor
Recommended to Jan by: saw first on RedeemedReader blog
Shelves: from-library
4.5 stars out of 5
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Jonathan Rogers grew up in Georgia, where he spent many happy hours in the swamps and riverbottoms on which the wild places of The Wilderking are based. He received his undergraduate degree from Furman University in South Carolina and holds a Ph.D. in seventeenth-century English literature from Vanderbilt University. The Bark of the Bog Owl has already found a receptive audience among Jonathan’s o ...more
More about Jonathan Rogers...
The Bark of the Bog Owl (The Wilderking Trilogy, #1) The Secret of the Swamp King (The Wilderking Trilogy, #2) The Way of the Wilderking (The Wilderking Trilogy, #3) The Charlatan's Boy The World According to Narnia: Christian Meaning in C. S. Lewis's Beloved Chronicles

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