Richard's Reviews > Greeting Flannery O'Connor at the Back Door of My Mind

Greeting Flannery O'Connor at the Back Door of My Mind by Aberjhani
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Advance review copy kindly provided by author and Goodreads friend, Aberjhani.

In this collection of essays, Aberjhani explores his relationship with three authors whose works and lives have influenced his; the other thing that is important is that they are all connected in some way to his birthplace, Savannah, Georgia.

As the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil gains worldwide notice, Aberjhani tells in his first essay how, as sales floor manager of Books-A-Million, he finds himself in the right place at the right time. He actually meets the author, John Berendt, and some of the charismatic people who are connected with the story of a bizarre murder case. But he finds that the spotlight now trained on Savannah not only increases prosperity and heightens excitement, but also focuses on the darker aspects of his hometown's murky past.

In the following essay, Aberjhani finds that his timing was off, and just enough that he narrowly missed meeting James Alan McPherson, another son of Savannah and the Pulitzer Prize winning writer of essays and short stories. Whilst marveling at the fate which had not allowed their paths to cross, he discovers that McPherson, like himself, beat incredible odds to become a writer and also distanced himself from a childhood heavily overshadowed by the galling byproducts of racism.

In the third essay, Aberjhani describes how, in spite of various opportunities to deepen his knowledge of yet another famous native of Savannah, Flannery O'Connor, he was extremely reluctant to do so. Despite her high standing in the pantheon of American authors, he cannot abide her racist treatment of Black characters; this revulsion is heightened by his viewing of the film based on Wise Blood. Through a series of imagined conversations with Flannery, he is drawn to reconsider her life, sufferings and mission as a writer, and to see them in a different light.

This book is a collection of essays, not an autobiography, yet Aberjhani reproduces episodes from his own life with great clarity and a lot of humour. The journey through life which makes him a writer leads him away from Savannah but also back to it. In this, his odyssey mirrors that of some of the great authors whose lives have touched his.
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Quotes Richard Liked

Aberjhani
“We knew how to combine our strengths in order to overcome our weaknesses, and how to live off faith when nothing else was available.”
Aberjhani, Greeting Flannery O'Connor at the Back Door of My Mind

Aberjhani
“With each passing day, I allowed myself to become a little more intoxicated by limitless possibilities which seemed sometimes to roll in with the fog, murmur suggestions that would have made me run yelling from them had I been anywhere [other than San Francisco], then leave me to cope with that special brand of terror bestowed by sweet and sour tastes of freedom.”
Aberjhani, Greeting Flannery O'Connor at the Back Door of My Mind

Aberjhani
“Whatever grace might 'trickle down' from the higher regions of a given society to the lower is no more essential than that which rises and converges from
the opposite direction.”
Aberjhani, Greeting Flannery O'Connor at the Back Door of My Mind

Aberjhani
“The chances of satisfying my renewed appetite for literary exchanges increased once I began to visit the library more frequently and make my way from the hotel to City Lights Bookstore at 261 Columbus Avenue. For all I was learning about the role its founder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, had played in helping to nurture, promote, and sustain the talented souls who made the Beat Movement possible, City Lights became a kind of sacred space for me.”
Aberjhani, Greeting Flannery O'Connor at the Back Door of My Mind

Aberjhani
“The only thing we knew for certain was the American Civil War was not a prelude to a kiss.”
Aberjhani, Greeting Flannery O'Connor at the Back Door of My Mind


Reading Progress

August 28, 2020 – Shelved
August 28, 2020 – Shelved as: as-you-wishlist
August 28, 2020 – Shelved as: africa-and-diaspora
August 28, 2020 – Shelved as: by-gr-friends
August 28, 2020 – Shelved as: literary-theory
August 28, 2020 – Shelved as: southern-literature
September 15, 2020 – Shelved as: tbr-shortlist
September 16, 2020 – Started Reading
September 28, 2020 –
page 66
34.02%
October 3, 2020 – Shelved as: america
October 3, 2020 – Shelved as: 2020
October 3, 2020 – Shelved as: lockdown-reads
October 3, 2020 – Finished Reading
October 8, 2020 – Shelved as: reviewed

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