Justin Evans's Reviews > Everything That Rises Must Converge: Stories

Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor
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's review
Jun 30, 2011

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Read in June, 2011

There's a mnemonic for Henry VIII's wives: divorced, beheaded, died; divorced beheaded, survived. You can do something similar for ETRMC, too: died, and died, and died, a fate worse than death, and died. Died, insane, broken and died. Notice a dominant theme there by any chance? As wonderful a writer as O'Connor was, and as good as it is that she was willing to strip the sugar-coating off absolutely everything, she tilled an incredibly narrow field.

No doubt a structuralist would enjoy tracing the slight differences between the moments at the end of her stories (and they *all* have a 'moment'), and the slight differences between her characters (full cast over 9 stories: overbearing older women who deserve what's coming, young intellectual men who deserve what's coming, self-conceived 'liberals' or 'progressives' who deserve what's coming and deranged children or younger women who, maybe, just maybe, don't really deserve what's coming. All of these people either hate or patronize their 'niggers.'). Non-structuralists, though, might get a bit tired of the same bad things happening to the same people in the same way over slightly more than twenty pages. I suspect the American literary magazine culture kind of deformed O'Connor's stories. One at a time, they'd be mighty impressive. Collected in a book, and, well, meh. I'll take J. F. Powers as my regional-Catholic-American-short-story-writer-who-deals-with-issues-of-race-and-class-as-well-as-issues-of-religion every time.

All of which is to say that O'Connor is an incredible, wonderful author, who doesn't at all deserve the adoration she's received, for better and worse, since her death.

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