Books

Book Review: The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor (Part 3)

Complete Stories by Flannery O_ConnorTitle: The Complete Stories
Author: Flannery O’Connor
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Date: 2009 (c.1950s)
Genre: Southern Gothic / Christian Realism
Summary: This is the complete collection of stories from one of the most original and powerful American writers of the twentieth century. Including A Good Man is Hard to Find and Everything That Rises Must Converge, this collection also contains several stories only available in this volume.


Check out part one and part two of this review featuring my thoughts on stories including The Geranium, The Crop, and A Good Man is Hard to Find.

***

Good Country People (1955)

This is considered to be one of Flannery O’Connor’s greatest stories and I definitely agree with that opinion because it was one of my favourites from the entire collection. It’s a  classic Southern Gothic tale about a stranger invading the family unit and attempting to destroy it but, for once, I genuinely found the stranger to be an unsettling presence within the story. He was just so off-putting and creepy and I was on edge throughout the whole story because I didn’t know what he was going to do. I think that this is the first time I’ve ever truly reacted to a ‘stranger’ in a Southern Gothic tale but he just gave off a really weird vibe from the beginning. 

Good Country People is such an uncomfortable read but it is so good.

***

The Comforts of Home (c.1960)

The Comforts of Home is another Southern Gothic tale about a stranger, this time a troubled young woman, who upsets the family dynamic. However, this story just feels sad rather than unsettling or uncomfortable as Thomas attempts to drive Star out of his mother’s home which results in a tragic ending.

I really loved the writing style that O’Connor uses in this story. There’s a lot of detail but I particularly like the way that she describes how Thomas can almost physically feel Star’s gaze on him. As a reader, you experience Thomas’ discomfort alongside him as Star continues to mock and tease him in his own mother’s home. There are so many layers to the distress in this scene and, even though it may seem plain and ordinary at first, I think it showcases O’Connor’s skill at creating tension out of practically nothing.

***

Everything That Rises Must Converge (published 1965)

This was an odd story and I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it. I certainly never expected to read anything like it. Everything That Rises Must Converge is a story which examines the difference between generations with a son despising his mother’s racist attitudes but it also explores racial integration from a white perspective. Julian’s mother isn’t violent, physically at least, but her opinions are absolutely revolting and you can feel Julian’s revulsion towards her. I honestly wanted to scream at his mother and I don’t usually have such a strong reaction to a character. I didn’t like Julian either, if I’m honest, because he came across as someone who wanted to use African Americans for his own personal gain.

I’ve never had such a strong reaction to characters in a story so I applaud O’Connor for creating such revolting characters.

***

Overall, these stories created a strong reaction in me. O’Connor masterfully creates characters and situations which inspire fear, hatred, and sorrow in her readers. I can’t say that I enjoyed reading these particular stories since ‘enjoy’ isn’t an appropriate word for stories such as these but I was gripped by them from beginning to end.


Read as part of the Classics Club Challenge. This post does not contain affiliate links.

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10 thoughts on “Book Review: The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor (Part 3)

    1. I tend to read a lot of Victorian literature (Dickens, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde etc.) in winter but also a horror novels because they fit with the bleakness of the season. This winter I’ll be reading books like Misery by Stephen King, The Road Through the Wall by Shirley Jackson, and The Night is Darkening Round Me by Emily Brontë 🙂

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  1. I do recommend you Shirley Jackson’s complete short stories, as well. (They are not too long). I know she’s super known by The Lottery, but there’s much more to her than just that story. Her stories are also Southern Gothic, and so good, varied, well written. I love both these women authors with such talent for short stories, which are, writers say, so difficult to write well.

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    1. I recently bought one of her novels, The Road Through the Wall, and I’m planning to read that within the next couple of weeks! I will definitely read her short stories too 🙂

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