Chamblee54

Flannery O’Connor

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on March 23, 2009

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PG remembers the first time the name Flannery O’Connor sank in. He was visiting some friends, in a little house across from the federal prison.

Rick(?) was the buddy of a character known as Harry Bowers. PG was never sure what Harry’s real name was. One night, Rick was talking about Southern Gothic writers, and he said that Flannery O’Connor was just plain weird
” Who else would have a bible salesman show up at a farm, take the girl up into a hayloft, unscrew her wooden leg and leave her there? Weird”
Flannery O’Connor was recently the subject of a biography written by Brad Gooch. The book is getting a bit of publicity. Apparently, the Milledgeville resident was a piece of work.

PG read some reviews of this biography, and found a collection of short stories at the library. The book included ” Good Country People”, the tale about the bible salesman. Apparently, this story was inspired by a real life incident. ( Miss O’Connor had lupus the last fifteen years of her life. She used crutches.) And yes, it is weird. Not like hollywood , but in the way of rural, post world war two Georgia.

Some of the reviews try to deal with her attitudes about Black people. On a certain level, she is a racist. She uses the n word freely, and her black characters are not inspiring people. The thing is, the white characters are hardly any better, and in some cases much worse.

The stories are well crafted, with vivid descriptions of people and places. The reader floats along with the flow of the story, until he realizes that Grandma has made a mistake on a road trip. The house she got her son to look for is in Tennessee, not Georgia. She makes him drive the family car into a ditch. Some drifting killers come by. Grandma asks one if he prays, while his partner is shooting her grandchildren. Weird.

In another story, a drifter happens upon a pair of women in the country. The daughter is thirty years old, is deaf, and has never spoken a word. The drifter teaches her to say bird and sugarpie. The mother gives him fifteen dollars for a honeymoon, if he will marry her. He takes the fifteen dollars and leaves her asleep in a roadside diner.

PG was looking for yard sales one Saturday afternoon. He came to a house off Lavista Road, between Briarcliff and Cheshire Bridge. The house had apparently not been painted in the last forty years. Thousands and thousands of paperback books were on the shelves. The lady taking the money said that the lady who lived there was the friend, and correspondent of, the “Milledgeville writer” Flannery O’Connor. This is apparently Betty Hester, who is mentioned in many of the biography reviews.

PG told the estate sale lady that she should be careful how she said that. There used to be a large mental hospital in Milledgeville, and the name is synonymous in Georgia with mental illness. The estate sale lady had never heard that.

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10 Responses

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  1. Flannery O’Connor « Chamblee54 said, on March 25, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    […] Flannery O’Connor « Chamblee54 […]

  2. Fr. J. said, on December 10, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I am glad you take an interest in Flannery, but to say baldly that she is a racist is to very much misunderstand her. For another view on Flannery and race, you might want to read her short story, “Everything that Rises Must Converge.”

  3. chamblee54 said, on December 10, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    “On a certain level, she is a racist.” That is not the same as “baldly” labeling her a racist.
    (And I have a full head of hair, thank you).
    As a native Georgian, I am aware of the many layers of nuance in race relations. I feel that the paragraph on race in the above feature is accurate.

  4. Fr. J. said, on December 10, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    You are right, I overreacted. Forgive me, I am in a Flannery moment and hoping to find others who appreciate her in the way I do. So, I am a bit defensive for her who cannot speak for herself.

    Still, I don’t find her even in the least racist, though as a fellow Georgian you may be aware of layers of an endemic regional racism from which I have more distance. I just don’t see it. Perhaps you could say more. I’m interested.

  5. chamblee54 said, on December 10, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Forgiveness granted.
    Discussions of who is and is not racist are boring. I think maybe a seven point scale of racism is more called for. I would not know how to quantify something like that, so that will remain a bright idea for the time being.
    I have taken a look at your blog, and find it interesting.

  6. Milledgeville Writer « Chamblee54 said, on March 23, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    […] follows is a repost. The pictures are from the ” Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University […]

  7. Flannery : A Life « Chamblee54 said, on December 21, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    […] spares no references, to show where he gets his information. Chamblee54 has written before about Miss O’Connor , and repeated the post a year later. There is a radio broadcast of a Flannery O’Connor […]

  8. Flannery O’Connor « Chamblee54 said, on December 26, 2012 at 6:46 am

    […] spares no citations, to show where he gets his information. Chamblee54 has written before about Miss O’Connor , and repeated the post a year later. There is a radio broadcast of a Flannery O’Connor […]

  9. Flannery O’Connor | Chamblee54 said, on December 11, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    […] to show where he gets his information. This is a repost. Chamblee54 has written before about Miss O’Connor , and repeated the post a year later. There is a radio broadcast of a Flannery O’Connor […]

  10. Flannery O’Connor | Chamblee54 said, on December 9, 2018 at 11:06 am

    […] You can see where he gets his information. This is a repost. Chamblee54 has written before about Miss O’Connor , and repeated the post a year later. There is a radio broadcast of a Flannery O’Connor […]


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