Title: The Complete Stories
Author: Flannery O’Connor
Genre: Short stories, literary fiction
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Source: Print copy from my personal library
Number of pages: 576 pages
First line: Old Dudley folded into the chair he was gradually molding into his own shape and looked out the window fifteen feet away into another window framed by blackened red brick.
Sigh. So, I’ve failed our first month of the challenge. I am on page 335 of this book, and I’m telling you, it is slow going. I was so excited to read this one, too! But so far, I can only point to one story that I’ve actually liked: “The Crop,” which is about a single woman living in a boarding house who lives inside the stories she writes.
I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m not enjoying these stories more, and I’ve come to a couple of conclusions. First, O’Connor is a brilliant writer, but her stories are depressing. I really don’t think that January, a month when I struggle with the blues anyway, was a good month to choose to read these stories – although I’m not convinced that reading them in a warmer, sunnier month would make much difference.
Second, I am simply the wrong audience for early 20th century American literature. I’ve tried – really, really tried. Last year, I read Faulkner and Steinbeck. Yuck. The year before that, I read The Great Gatsby – double yuck. And don’t even get me started on Hemingway.
So, I apologize. I am determined that I will finish this book, but it definitely won’t be today. I can’t really write a review, but I definitely would like to hear what all of you have been thinking as you read – finished or not. I’ll give you a few questions to get you started, if you like. If not, feel free to post anything and everything about the book, the author, your reading experience, and then link your post below. I look forward to reading your thoughts.
~ What is your overall impression of O’Connor as a writer?
~ Is there a story that you have particularly liked? Or particularly disliked?
~ Does her work remind you of any other authors or works?
~ What do you think her stories say about how she feels about people in general?
~ Do you get a sense of any particular message she is trying to send with her writing?