I have to say I didn't love it. Perhaps I'm missing the point, perhaps not. After four attempts to get through it - and the audio version at that - I...moreI have to say I didn't love it. Perhaps I'm missing the point, perhaps not. After four attempts to get through it - and the audio version at that - I finally did. Charlton Heston, while wonderful as a narrator, could not revive what was an irretrievably dull story for me. Oh well...(less)
I've been skipping around with the stories in this book, primarily because I'm reading them for book group discussions, and I think I will try and rev...moreI've been skipping around with the stories in this book, primarily because I'm reading them for book group discussions, and I think I will try and review each story as I read it rather than analyze the book as a whole (which is next to impossible).
Let me first start with saying that Flannery O'Connor is a genius of a writer, with a immeasurable talent for biting social commentary. It is not out of place to compare her in spirit to Mark Twain, and while she is a different style of writer than Twain, they share a common bond of identifying the social ills of their generation(s) and skewering them repeatedly in their writing. O'Connor is a standout in the genre of Southern Gothic, and she used both hyperbole and the grotesque to sharply and critically harpoon accepted social mores and customs with which she vehemently disagreed. She was also a steadfast Christian, and had little patience with the legalistic and judgmental "Christians" the she often encountered. To say that she saw them as disingenuous is an understatement, as her writing gives evidence to the fact that she could not suffer the shallowness of their faith or the their total misunderstanding of grace and salvation.
O'Connor's stories, as they shed light on the cultural woes of the American South, make us uncomfortable, and sometimes offend us. But her purpose in going there is to make us think critically about ourselves as she exposes hypocritical behavior in others. These are not for the faint of heart, and they are not frothy or fun. They are, however, meaty and complex, upsetting and difficult, and ultimately satisfying in mental, spiritual and emotional ways.
So, without further ado...my impressions of the stories as I read them.
The Geranium - thoughts forthcoming
The Barber - Skewering the ridiculousness of racial politics with a sharp understanding that political issues should have no color. It's interesting, though, how O'Connor uses an inarticulate man to make this point, and thus sheds light on the weaknesses and foibles of both sides of the political debate.
Wildcat The Crop The Turkey The Train The Peeler The Heart of the Park A Stroke of Good Fortune Enoch and the Gorilla
A Good Man is Hard to Find - A very pointed statement about what is good and what is evil, and how perceptions can be very distorted. The Grandmother is "supposed" to be good because she is pious, but she is judgmental and critical, and her faith is shallow. The Misfit - a murderer - is an evil man, but he understands who God is with great clarity, and though he has no faith at all, he is the vehicle through with the Grandmother is exposed, and through which O'Connor causes us as readers to inspect our own beliefs.
A Late Encounter with the Enemy The Life You Save May Be Your Own The River A Circle in the Fire The Displaced Person A Temple of the Holy Ghost The Artificial Nigger
Good Country People - rereading
You Can't Be Any Poorer than Dead Greenleaf A View of the Woods The Enduring Chill The Comforts of Home
Everything That Rises Must Converge - rereading
The Partridge Festival The Lame Shall Enter First Why Do the Heathen Rage?
Revelation - (on deck) - thoughts next week
Parker's Back - Here is another sharply critical commentary on Christianity, particularly what constitutes faith and what does not. Parker is not a Christian - not saved, but he marries Sarah Ruth, who is. In the end, though, it is he whose faith is found, and hers that is found wanting.
Not the best Fitzgerald I have ever read, but I will say that the ending is immensely satisfying, and I definitely related to Berniece in that instanc...moreNot the best Fitzgerald I have ever read, but I will say that the ending is immensely satisfying, and I definitely related to Berniece in that instance. Could not stand Marjorie, and I am always amazed at how horrible, bitchy women seem to be able to hold men in such thrall. In the end, I wanted to see & hear her reaction to what Berniece did, but Fitzgerald did end in such a way as to leave the reader imagining any number of fitting aftermaths to the betrayal.(less)
This is a hilarious book, and though I'm convinced that some of the stories are somewhat (greatly?) exaggerated, there are recognizable elements for e...moreThis is a hilarious book, and though I'm convinced that some of the stories are somewhat (greatly?) exaggerated, there are recognizable elements for everyone. One appealing aspect of the book is that each of the stories could stand alone, yet they also tell a chronological story. It's a great, quick read & offers a lot of laugh out loud moments.(less)