Some Flannerys I live by
This is my dogeared, hard-used 1997 copy (24th paperback printing) of Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners. It cost $12.
And just below is my new, virginal 1969 “first printing” (vs the 1957 true first edition), from Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, Inc. Where’s Giroux? It cost $85 and made me weep in New Orleans’s Faulkner House bookstore.
Among the Flannerys I go back to again and again:
- The writer learns, perhaps more quickly than the reader, to be humble in the face of what-is. What-is is all he has to do with; the concrete is his medium; and he will realize eventually that fiction can transcend its limitations only by staying within them.
- There is a moment in every great story in which the presence of grace can be felt as it waits to be accepted or rejected, even though the reader may not recognize this moment.
- …the lines of motion that interest the writer are usually invisible. They are the lines of spiritual motion. And in (A Good Man is Hard to Find), you should be on the lookout for such things as the action of grace in the Grandmother’s soul, and not for the dead bodies.
- …violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace. Their heads are so hard that almost nothing else will do the work.