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Collected Works: Wise Blood / A Good Man is Hard to Find / The Violent Bear it Away / Everything that Rises Must Converge / Essays and Letters

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  3,132 ratings  ·  191 reviews
In her short lifetime, Flannery O'Connor became one of the most distinctive American writers of the twentieth century. By birth a native of Georgia and a Roman Catholic, O'Connor depicts, in all its comic and horrendous incongruity, the limits of worldly wisdom and the mysteries of divine grace in the "Christ-haunted" Protestant South. This Library of America collection, t ...more
Hardcover, 1281 pages
Published 1988 by Library of America
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Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I would not dispute her talent, but I found her style a little overwrought for my taste, and her particular brand of Christianity rather unpleasant (not least, for example, her view on lesbianism as a disgusting sin or, actually, her obsession with sin and grace in general). I know some people like to read her as "ironic", but it is obvious where her sympathies lie.

I found she worked better in the short story form than the novel, particularly when there was enough ambiguity for the reader to re
Sometimes you devour a book. Sometimes a book devours you.

I chose this book, from my local library, for several reasons. 1) Flannery O'Connor is thought to have been one of the most respected writers of faith in recent history. 2) I need to read quality books to feed my brain if I'm going to call myself a writer. 3) My personal goal is to read fifty books in 2013 and 4) I chose this and got a hundred pages into it -- which I consider pretty committed -- before I realized that this volume was ov
Jun 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I finished Wise Blood, and I'm now reading some of her letters...For Wise Blood, it's the kind of book you admire, but it requires work and thought and wasn't pure pleasure for me. What I like about it is that it is trying to say something, something big, something existential. Haze Motes character is not as someone else pointed out to O'Connor himself believable as a full human being. She agreed with that. I agree with that too. But it seems to me this book is more of an allegory--you know as y ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Chifforobe Hoarders
Recommended to Jordan by: Elizabeth
Flannery O'Connor is the master of Southern Gothic.

Her tales are full of sociopathic actions and skewed niceties, and will drag you into the darkest corners of the South with a thousand unanswered questions: What drives a man to create the Church without Christ? Why kill an entire family in cold blood? Why steal a lonely girl's wooden leg? The depths of human horror are explored in O'Connor's eloquent and visceral language; she will startle the shit out of you, and your grandmother.

Oh, and the
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
I'm "taking" the Yale Open Course in The American Novel Since 1945 (, and "Wise Blood" is one of the readings. It tells of Hazel Motes, a young man from Tennessee recently returned to the South after several years of fighting overseas. His grandfather was a preacher, and people keep believing he is one. When he does preach, it's outside of movie theaters, and is for the Church Without Christ.

My favorite part is when a man named Holy tries to join him and
May 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
This certainly was a load of a book. I don’t have a problem with the writing which is pretty good or the content of the stories. But I don’t think any of her writing is insightful or intelligent. She knows how to hide her lack of insight. That’s a talent, I guess.

Her style reminds me of that family member prone to box wine who has mastered the way to tell a story without ever having experienced life for himself; slow and meandering in their rendering of the story that usually sounds interesting
Christine Christman
Aug 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing

When I began reading this book O didn't know if I was going to make it through. But eventually I got tot the point where I was picking it up every free minute I had. Why. I think it was because I began to get to know her characters. You know how when you first meet people it is easy to make all of these judgments about them...that defensive posture...but then when you get to know them the judgments fall away because you get to see what is behind the behaviors or attitudes being judged? That's
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Volumes like this are the glory of the Library of America. All the Flannery O'Connor you need in one well edited, perfectly sized edition. And you do need to read Flannery O'Connor. As a devout Catholic living in the gaudy sectarian carnival of the Protestant South, O'Connor had a unique perspective on religion and its unpredictable power. Though I will always be fond of Wise Blood and Hazel Motes ("I preach the Church Without Christ where the blind don't see, the lame don't walk, and what's dea ...more
Curt Jarrell
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the 2oth Century's most influential and fiercely original talents, O'Connor is not to be dismissed lightly. Her sharp wit and even sharper prose is on display in this collection of her work. It's a pity she was taken from us at such a young age of only 39. I prefer her shorter works, including her essays and letters and her short fiction, my favorite being "Good Country People," about a shady salesman looking to pick up something extra at a sales call in a rural area, and it isn't what yo ...more
Olav Nilsen
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
“Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it”
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I came back to Flannery O'Connor's work (this book) after reading a blog post about the role of Christianity in her work. My first reaction to this was, "Flannery O'Connor was Catholic?"--something akin to Homer Simpson's exclamation "Mel Brooks Is Jewish?" In my defense, I first encountered Flannery O'Connor in high school in "Greenleaf," one of the less overtly religious of her stories (Pop quiz: Will the dreaded "n-word" or "Christ" be the first to be completely scrubbed out of our literature ...more
James Violand
Jul 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Absolutely no one.
Shelves: own
Wise Blood
An imbecilic degenerate with a religious chip on his shoulder, attempts to build a new church of no Jesus, meets other irredeemable characters in a small Southern city and dies. Not a story worth its ink.
A Good Man Is Hard To Find
You’re in a restaurant. Your ordered food arrives. Your first bite tells you something is wrong. You take a second and your nerve reflex is to vomit. Do you continue to eat? Hell no. This author sucks. I don’t know what rock she crept out from under, nor do I
Dave N
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Previously, I'd only read her first novel, Wise Blood, and I'd given it a somewhat poor rating. I take it back. I think I've come to appreciate that first novel much more now that I've read more about O'Conner and her thoughts on Southern writing and its role in portraying the "freaks" in society. That said, I really think her second novel, The Violent Bear it Away, is really her stand-out work. Don't get me wrong, her short stories are fantastic at times, but I really think she shines in that s ...more
Bobby Lehew
I have so little time for thoughtful review; instead, I opt for a series of favorite passages from each book; (my apologies to authors everywhere for confounding intent by taking these out of context!) -

"There is another reason in the Southern situation that makes for a tendency toward the grotesque and this is the prevalence of good Southern writers. I think the writer is initially set going by literature more than by life. When there are many writers all employing the sale idiom, all looking
Paul Jellinek
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is my second reading of this extraordinary volume of the writings of one of America's greatest writers--and the first time that I read all the remarkable letters that comprise the final third of the book--but it won't be my last. There is so much depth to these novels and stories, and so much wisdom and humor in the letters--some of which shed invaluable light on the novels and stories--that I will undoubtedly return to them again and again. As her letters reveal, none of these novels or st ...more
Jun 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
The writing style of Flannery O'Connor awakens the reader with its felicity. Miss O'Connor imagination takes over from there and the ride is a wild one. Wise Blood, the first work in this collection, is a nightmarish take on the world of southern itenerant preachers. Hazel Motes' Church without Christ is a bleakly humorous approach to the whole god/man situation and Motes own psychology is worth studying through rereadings of this short work. The collections of short fiction underscore the abili ...more
Aug 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who's lived in the south.
This is the ultimate collection of works (I love the letters, too) from the most captivating female writer in American history. If you don't appreciate her work, you're not reading deep enough. Flannery's writing is so thick with subtext, so much symbolism, yet so oddly relatable, it's amazing that a white woman of the south could create such characters, such realism and do so with such mastery...and at such a young age. Her untimely death at age 39 cut short the potential for more greatness and ...more
Oct 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I am fascinated by the writings of Flannery O'Connor. She exaggerates people's not so good charaters traits to make a point concerning issues such a racism, selfishness, intolerance, etc. Her stories are full of irony and often have shocking endings. We visited her home in Milledgeville, Georgia where she lived and wrote for many years. This was interesting to me as my son-in-law, Ben is from Milledgeville.
Aug 22, 2009 rated it liked it
I only read The Violent Bear It Away, but the website wants me to use this "collected" edition to put this on my shelf.

This is pretty obviously a Novel of Ideas, but the story drew me along nonetheless. I think I might decide I liked it better the more I think about it, so perhaps I'll amend this review in the future. For now, I'd recommend it as a relatively easy read, for a Novel of Ideas...
Jun 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
I like Southern writers. Don't really know why. Maybe I just gravitate toward dialects, oppression, freakish humor, madness, and deeply (but beautifully) flawed people. Shall Flannery O'Connor be the answer I've been waiting for, to Faulkner and McCullers?

Anyway I'm two short stories and one novel in (A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Everything that Rises Must Converge, Wise Blood) and yes, I do think I've taken a shining to this Flannery woman.

Awesome. Full review(s) later!
Mar 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It would help if you read "Mystery and Manners" if you are having trouble understanding Flannery O'Connors works...She explains her art very well in this collection of notes from her speeches, essays and/or talks that she gave.
Arwen Downs
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I will not explain Flannery O'Connor. You must read Flannery O'Connor, because your life will be better.

(Even the letters are worth reading, and you cannot say that about everyone whose letters are published.)
Kevin Ryan
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
She was one of the most gifted writers in America. She combines a gothic Southern sensibility with a fascination for human failure and the mystical. She brings you to places and outcomes you don't expect but seem completely perfect once you are there.
Martin Bihl
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wise Blood - finished 05.17.14

A Good Man is Hard to Find - finished 03.02.15

The Violent Bear It Away - finished 02.25.16

Everything That Rises Must Converge - finished 03.17.17

Stories and Occasional Prose - finished 04.13.18

Letters - finished 09.27.19
Meredith Cenzer
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Damn fine short stories. If you like Faulkner, chances are you will like Flannery O'Connor - the Southern grotesque.
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've reviewed the novels and stories separately but I recommend this for her letters and essays, especially the letters.
Harry Allagree
Nov 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Ever since my college years, at least, I've heard the name of Flannery O'Connor mentioned as one of America's significant writers. In all those years, however, for whatever reason, I never read a single one of her books...until now.

I can't say I like her writing, but I also can't say I dislike it. In fact, she is mostly easy to read, she writes most very descriptively, there's humor in her descriptions, and a good number of profound sentences and paragraphs, many of which I suspect I've missed c
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: completionists
(A note to self: never NEVER again resolve to read a profound author's complete works from beginning to an end. It sounds awesome at first, but it can kill some joy in coming back to renewed sparks of love for your favourite author.)

How do you review a book like this? After all, one is only human.
Now I don't mean it in that kind of grandiose way we praise big authors like Shakespeare in encyclopaedias. I say it because as much as I love O'Connor's work, I don't think I fully get it yet. I think
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I did not read all of this book, but I'm going to count it finished for now. Flannery O'Connor is a great writer, but she has like one theme (that belief in God is inevitable, and most often occurs with or after a gruesome event) and she repeats this theme in varying ways. I'm sure I would have appreciated all of her stories, but trying to read all of them at once burnt me out a bit. Southern Gothic is exactly accurate, unsettling characters and settings, and unsettling ends for a lot of them. P ...more
Micah Hawkinson
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
O'Connor is a masterful prose stylist and paints a vivid and disturbing world. Her stories and novels are set in the Christ-haunted South. Each one portrays sin and righteousness, damnation and redemption. I really enjoyed this collection, partly because her letters and essays shed so much light on her literary intent and craftsmanship.

If you read nothing else of O'Connor's, you really ought to read "Revelation," "The Enduring Chill," "A Good Man is Hard to Find," and "Good Country People."
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Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925. When she died at the age of thirty-nine, America lost one of its most gifted writers at the height of her powers. O’Connor wrote two novels, Wise Blood (1952) and The Violent Bear It Away (1960), and two story collections, A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955) and Everything That Rises Must Converge (1964). Her Complete Stories, published posth ...more

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“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.” 635 likes
“The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may well be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock -- to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.” 75 likes
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