Thanks to Colin Cutler for alerting me to this recording of Flannery O’Connor reading one of her signature stories. WARNING: O’Connor is one of the pre-eminent Christian fiction writers of the past century, but she is not for the faint of heart. After the jump, some excerpts from an essay of hers that tells what she’s up to, and then the link to the audio of her reading “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.”
From “The Fiction Writer and His Country,” quoted from the definitive essay about O’Connor by Robert Drake:
I see from the standpoint of Christian orthodoxy. This means that for me the meaning of life is centered in our Redemption by Christ and that what I see in the world I see in its relation to that. I don’t think that this is a position that can be taken halfway or one that is particularly easy in these times to make
transparent in fiction. . . .
I have heard it said that belief in Christian dogma is a hindrance to the writer, but I myself have found nothing further from the truth. Actually, it forces the storyteller to observe. It is not a set of rules which fixes what he sees in the world. It affects his writing primarily by guaranteeing his respect for mystery. . . .
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.
The audio is here, from a site that seems to have lots more treasures like this: