Flannery Favorites


My time as Camp chaplain is part retreat, part vacation and part work. On Monday I went with a van load of kids to take part in a rock climbing competition. Lots of enthusiasm, sweat and skill. I managed to get on the wall myself and it was not a pretty sight. Anyway, we won.

In the priest’s cabin I found a complete collection of Flannery O’Connor’s stories. There are a good number I hadn’t read, so I stayed up late re-reading my favorites and finding a few new ones.
An old favorite is A Temple of the Holy Spirit. I love the two goofy airhead Catholic girls, and the moment when they’re on the front porch and their two Assembly of God suitors sing a gospel song and they reply with Tantum Ergo. A new one that I really enjoyed, and laughed out loud is The Enduring Chill about a conceited young intellectual who comes home to die. He wants to meet a Jesuit priest, and visualized an urbane intellectual only to be visited by a fat, half blind, half deaf  Irishman who tells him like it is.
Hilarious. Anybody want to comment on their favorite Flannery story and why?
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  • “The Misfit,” Father. How can one beat a line that summarizes the life of an individual better than this:”She would have been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” (The Misfit’s quote).D.v.O’Connor rocks!

  • No comment possible yet, but you have inspired me to run to Borders to pick up a collection of her short stories.

  • I would pick, “A Last Encounter With the Enemy” just for the final image of the poor old man in his military uniform dead in the wheelchair in line for a Coca-Cola. Ruthlessly funny.

  • “The Artificial Nigger” (Sorry, it’s the way the title is)It has to be the one short story by O’Connor that has the most fully resolved ending. I love the endings of her stories, but the ending on this one has quite a poignant portrayal of God’s mercy. Haunting really.It has some very funny moments too. I love how the boy Nelson goes gaw-gaw over a black woman who he asks for directions, and his Granddad, Mr.Head, who is, let’s say, prejudiced, simply can’t believe it, and he later admonishes the boy and vents his biased (ignorant and thus somewhat innocently biased) astonishment after he runs incoherently through some words in a sort of daze:”…And standing there grinning like a chim-pan-zee while a n—– woman gives you direction. Great Gawd!” Mr. Head said.”There’s others of O’Connor I might pick, but this one in particular I’ve had a penchant for.

  • 1. The Artificial Nigger2. Wise Blood

  • Fr. Longenecker, nice to find you on blogspot; I’m a friend of Sean Chapman’s. Good to see you here.I often find myself thinking that whichever story I read most recently is my favorite. As such, The Violent Bear It Away is presently at the top of my list. I wrote a paper on it for my 20th Century Catholic Literature class, in which I argued that the story is an eschatological parallel, as, in a way, much of Flannery’s fiction is.I like it anytime someone creates a macrocosm within a nonetheless believable, if exaggerated, character.

  • “Good Country People””Get rid of the salt of the earth and let’s eat.”

  • “Parker’s Back”. I just love to relish the irony when the tattooed face of Christ gets beaten with a broom by the “righteous” woman.

  • Hi Father,Thank you for this great blog.I just started reading Flannery O’Connor from a collection of her stories. I’ve read the ones mentioned here, but my favorites so far is:1) The Displaced Person2) The Lame Shall Enter First

  • Oops, forgot to mention why I liked them. The exposure of the hypocrite do-gooder in the Lame Shall Enter First. And I liked the Priest in the Displaced Person.

  • “Revelation”, hands down.God’s revelation to Mrs. Turpin (the nice, polite, ‘good’ woman) comes through an ugly mentally ill girl she meets in a doctor’s office, in the form of these words:”Go back to hell where you came from, you old wart hog!”Priceless.

  • No one’s mentioned it, so I’d like to add my absolute favorite story, “The River.” I think it is a perfect illustration of how to follow Christ like a little child.

  • Flannery’s stories are just unforgettable. I would say though that reading Te Habit of Being first was essential fro this reader– I had to know the author first before knowing how to read her stuff! (Hi, Fr.!)

  • I have loved Flannery since I discovered her in college. I used to read her collected short stories cover to cover each Lent. It has been a few lents since I’ve done the full compliment, but her vivid imagination erupts into my daily consciousness often.Favorites:1. Revelation. Who doesnt have a Mrs. Turpin in at least some dusty corner of the soul? And who doesn’t need to be reminded that every manner of person shall populate the Kingdom of Heaven?2. Everything that Rises Must Converge. Mercilessly funny including the green and purple hat that looked like a cushion with the stuffing out!