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The Complete Stories [Paperback]

Flannery O'Connor
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 1971
Winner of the National Book Award

The publication of this extraordinary volume firmly established Flannery O'Connor's monumental contribution to American fiction. There are thirty-one stories here in all, including twelve that do not appear in the only two story collections O'Connor put together in her short lifetime--Everything That Rises Must Converge and A Good Man Is Hard to Find.

O'Connor published her first story, "The Geranium," in 1946, while she was working on her master's degree at the University of Iowa. Arranged chronologically, this collection shows that her last story, "Judgement Day"--sent to her publisher shortly before her death—is a brilliantly rewritten and transfigured version of "The Geranium." Taken together, these stories reveal a lively, penetrating talent that has given us some of the most powerful and disturbing fiction of the twentieth century. Also included is an introduction by O'Connor's longtime editor and friend, Robert Giroux.

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"What we lost when she died is bitter. What we have is astonishing: the stories burn brighter than ever, and strike deeper." --Walter Clemons, Newsweek

About the Author

Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925. When she died at the age of thirty-nine, America lost one of its most gifted writers at the height of her powers. O’Connor wrote two novels, Wise Blood (1952) and The Violent Bear It Away (1960), and two story collections, A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955) and Everything That Rises Must Converge (1964). Her Complete Stories, published posthumously in 1972, won the National Book Award that year, and in a 2009 online poll it was voted as the best book to have won the award in the contest’s 60-year history. Her essays were published in Mystery and Manners (1969) and her letters in The Habit of Being (1979). In 1988 the Library of America published her Collected Works; she was the first postwar writer to be so honored. O’Connor was educated at the Georgia State College for Women, studied writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and wrote much of Wise Blood at the Yaddo artists’ colony in upstate New York. She lived most of her adult life on her family’s ancestral farm, Andalusia, outside Milledgeville, Georgia.

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OLD DUDLEY folded into the chair he was gradually molding to his own shape and looked out the window fifteen feet away into another window framed by blackened red brick. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Story is the Meaning May 18 2004
Flannery O'Connor's The Complete Stories puts the reader in possession of a superb collection of all her short stories, including those published posthumously. Each story looks at humanity in grit and detail. With a passion for the absurd, O'Connor explores the condition of the South, sparing no character's flaw and yet making the reader sympathize and care for the people she creates. Like Faulkner, O'Connor seems to feel a sadness and passion for the South and its often crazy citizens. While many read "Good Country People" or "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" in high school, there are other stories less well-known that reward attention. "The River" and "Revelation" are two personal favorites. In "The River" looks at child neglect, baptism and death simultaneously. "Revelation," which was her last finished published work before she died ends on a hopeful note-the protagonist actually seems to have learned and changed at the end of the story- a rare thing in her work.
O'Connor has been a particularly influential writer among American authors, and her theories about short stories are regularly taught in the classroom. She was a great advocate for allowing the story to be the meaning, and not candy-coating for a moral. However, her concerns are woven into the fabric of each story, and the flaws in ourselves are revealed through her characters. While O'Connor is known the best for her short stories, she also wrote two novels and some literary criticism, which are not included in this volume, but are also well worth reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars you owe it to yourself. Feb. 1 2004
A dear friend suggested a few Flan stories to me, and I guess I got hooked. With this volume consumed, I can now say I have read all of the published short stories of this fantastic writer.
O' Connor's work is fantastic in the way my dictionary describes the word. "Conceived by unrestrained fancy." These stories are nearly always shocking, actually very shocking. They are powerful character driven things, and rather than describe them as "horror" stories as I see some reviewers do, I would moreso call them "grotesques."
They involve characters that are not so much "horrible" or "horrorful" as much as they are simply ludicrous, or incongruously composed or disposed. Caught up in all manner of inner bigotries, hypocrisy, fanaticism of one sort or another (most often religious). O'Connor characters often turn out to be homicidal, suicidal, brutal, obsessed, the opposite of what they appear to be, and always, if nothing else... shocking!
I am no connoisseur of the short story genre but all I know is that these stories without fail, intrigued me. Opened a door to further contemplation, and went a bit beyond what they said.
For sheer brilliance of sentence structure, visualization, suspense, I think it would be fair to say that there are few writers that have ever written as clearly as Flannery O' Connor.
When I am reading literature, characters better dang well talk good, and talk like people, not like characters. The dialogue in this collection is one of its strongest points. Impeccable down-south vernacular.
As for verisimilitude, well that is another mentionable thing here. If they are anything, these stories are bizarre, and yet they retain that quality of appearing to be true. Appearing to be possible.
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Fans of O. Henry and other short story writers would do well to read the collected stories of Flannery O'Connor. Though the stories are as rural as O. Henry's are urban, the sense of irony and tragedy remains the same, as does the sense of comedy. O'Connor was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a superbly gifted technical writer.
However, what takes O'Connor beyond the works of O. Henry is the theology behind so many of her stories. Raised in the deep South with several religious influences throughout her years, O'Connor struggled relentlessly with questions of faith, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and justification, especially in connection to social and racial prejudice. Readers will be hammered time and time again with O'Connor's understanding of what it means to be a sinner and what it means to stand under grace, and it is not for the faint of heart.
Among the many stories worth mentioning are "A Good Man Is Hard To Find", "The River", "The Artificial Nigger", and "Revelation." These four stories by themselves would be worth the price of this collection - the rest simply add to the value. Any collection of 20th century fiction is incomplete without something from O'Connor, whose life was tragically cut short just as her work began to be truly appreciated.
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By A Customer
The first half of the 20th century. Ask yourself about the short stories. Everybody wrote them. Ask yourself abut the best: Eudora Welty, Fredric Brown, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Carson McCullers, Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway. And there is one name that is simply the best, against any competitors, against any subject matter, against any sex: Flannery O'Connor. I only hope that she knows that 35 years after her death her "The Complete Stories" is still is a best selling compilation and one of the most recommended books I have ever seen. They try to tie her to the south. They try to label her a woman's writer. They haven't read her. Flannery O'Connor is the best 20th century short story writer. Period. AND, she also wins the prize for best final lines in her stories. Didn't know there was a prize for best final lines? I have invented it.
"Then she recognized the feeling again, a little roll. It was if it were not her stomach. It was if it were out nowhere in nothing, out nowhere, resting and waiting, with plenty of time."
"The sherrif's brain worked instantly like a calculating machine. As he scrutinized the scene, further insights were flashed to him. He was accustomed to enter upon scenes that were not as bad as he had hoped to find them, but this one met his expectations."
"Mr. Paradise's head appeared from time to time on the surface of the water. Finally, far downstream, the old man rose like some ancient water monster and stood empty-handed, staring with his dull eyes as far down the river as he could see."
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Falling leaves? I hope not
Flannery O'Connor wrote great - not good, but great - short stories that couldn't have been written anywhere but in the U.S. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Vince Marinelli
1.0 out of 5 stars BEWARE!!! This is NOT the "Complete" stories!
I bought this edition of Flannery O'Connor's "Complete" Stories because it is large and in decent-size type. Read more
Published on April 20 2011 by Duck
5.0 out of 5 stars The book you save may be your own
This is probably the most amazing collection of short stories I have ever read. O'Connor presents Southern people at their best and worst. Read more
Published on Nov. 19 2004 by Bradley Wallace
5.0 out of 5 stars A good book is hard to find
You'd think that with the short story really being and "American" form, like Jazz and baseball, that more writers would come by it naturally---not so. Read more
Published on June 2 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughing at Iqhope
This has got to be one of the funniest things I have ever read in my life! Iqhope, did you not know that Virginia is a Southern state?
Published on April 22 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody Genius
There's a famous saw (that some attribute to the English evangelist David Watson) to the effect that, "The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Why Stories Like This are Considered Literary
Since I couldn't afford to go back to school to get my Masters, I thought it might be wise to obtain the required reading list and read myself through an alternate education. Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2003 by iqhope
2.0 out of 5 stars Cruelty
For her narrative talent, the lady gets at least 4 stars. But be forewarned: her stories can be cruel (e.g. the murder of children). Read more
Published on April 8 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding the truth
Genius! These stories remind me how much we can learn from people very different from ourselves. A Southern American white woman, O'Conner offers invaluable gems on American... Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2002 by Aaron
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Collection!
I was lucky enough during one semester in college to be forced to read several works by Flannery O'Connor. Read more
Published on May 19 2002 by Faulknernut
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