The Complete Stories Paperback – Jan 1 1971
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Having grown up in the south and actually seen folks walking down the highway with a big wooden cross on their backs, I am always amazed by the fact that though O'Connor paints a story that is funny, she isn't laughing AT anyone, rather, she is showing more how we all can be ridiculous, especially without self-awareness. Moments of grace, of dark awareness, of sudden self-knowledge (and sometimes that's not what we think it ought to be). O'Connor is a genius of Southern Gothic, and of American writing. These short stories should be devoured, then re-read over and over again.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Flannery O'Connor wrote great - not good, but great - short stories that couldn't have been written anywhere but in the U.S. Read morePublished on July 12 2014 by Vince Marinelli
I bought this edition of Flannery O'Connor's "Complete" Stories because it is large and in decent-size type. Read morePublished on April 20 2011 by Duck
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 morePublished on Nov. 19 2004 by Bradley Wallace
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 morePublished on June 2 2004
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
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 morePublished on Jan. 13 2004
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 morePublished on Oct. 19 2003 by iqhope
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 morePublished on April 8 2003