Some Thoughts on the Writing of Flannery O’Connor

This excerpt is taken from an interview with author Paul Lisicky by Nick Ripatrazone, moderator of the blog The Fine Delight, Catholicism in Literature.  Because of our reading of Flannery O’Connor, I thought his take might be of interest.

Could you discuss your appreciation for the writing (and ideas about writing) of Flannery O’Connor?

I’ve always been stirred by the relationship between disruption and growth in her work. Grace doesn’t often happen without confrontation, especially confrontation between strangers. I’m also interested in the relationship between irreverence and reverence in her stories. You can’t have reverence without the other, you know? The Grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” doesn’t reach out to touch the Misfit’s face until after she mumbles, “Maybe he didn’t raise the dead.” That’s the first point in the piece where she actively doubts, the first time she asks a question. The religion of complacency and denial and reward for social achievement–gone up in a flare. I don’t think that she would have come to that radical connection with the Misfit unless she’d opened herself up to doubt.

I also love what O’Connor does with tone–the almost slapstick, vaguely sitcom-y opening of “A Good Man” morphing into something so grave and pressurized that it’s almost unbearable. Try reading that whole story aloud in a group setting: It’s on fire. I’m always relieved by any piece of art that escapes its original terms, that’s given permission to leap and stretch and go to strange, anarchic places. Of course there’s still humor, dark humor, in the gravest parts of the story, but the story’s become another animal in its final pages. There’s such a lesson in that, not only in terms of content but form, too.

If you are interested to read the entire interview, click on the blog link above.

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