Girl History Month – Flannery O’Connor, Southern Original


Reprinted from The Writers Almanac

It’s the birthday of Flannery O’Connor who said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd,” and “Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.” She didn’t want a biography written about her because, she said, “Lives spent between the house and the chicken yard do not make exciting copy.”

Flannery O’Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1925. When she was five years old, she trained a chicken to walk backward, and a newsreel company came to her house to make a film about it, which was shown all over the country. She said, “I was just there to assist the chicken but it was the high point in my life. Everything since has been anticlimax.”

She spent much of her life on her family farm in Milledgeville, Georgia, raising poultry and writing novels and short stories: Wise Blood (1952), The Violent Bear It Away (1960), A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955), and Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965). This last book of short stories was published after her death in 1964, at the age of 39, from complications of lupus.

She said: “Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.”

Flannery O’Connor was strange, brilliant and truly original. She was also very funny, often in a macabre way.

I’m proud that she was a Southerner, which I consider myself to be. I’ve read everything she wrote, and I don’t believe I really understand any of it.

My favorite piece of her work is the short story Revelation. If you haven’t read it, please do. You’ll never forget it.

9 thoughts on “Girl History Month – Flannery O’Connor, Southern Original

  1. One of my all-time favs. Love the quote as well!

    • This Flannery O’Connor quote in the Christian Science Monitor made me laugh out loud!
      “I hope you don’t have friends who recommend Ayn Rand to you. The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.”

      • I wouldn’t expect anything less from the author of A Good Man is Hard to FInd!

        I also like her exploration of Christianity in her fiction in the most unobvious of ways. (have you read her lectures and non-fiction?). Here’s a quote for you: “the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil” That sounds like it should be part of a prayer….

      • I haven’t read all of her non-fiction. Maybe it will help me to understand her fiction a little better. 🙂
        I love the quote. I love her treatment of the subject of grace as a whole. That’s what I like best about “Revelation.”
        There’s a 2009 New York Times Article that you would love. You can find it by googling her. Let me know if you need the cite.

  2. lolasanrose says:

    Well now, she was an odd duck. However, her writing too me to worlds of thought, far from the maddening crowd.

    Thank you, for reminding me of her. I too have read everything she wrote. Sadly as we are RV traveling and full time in RV. I donated many books to the library. All of hers. And now…….will have to gather them again.

    • I am one or two books away from being on the tv show “Hoarders”. 🙂
      Flannery O’Connor’s whole oeuvre is available on Kindle for about $10. That’s what I would recommend.
      xo Deb

      • I’m sorry. I just cracked up laughing! One or two books away from being on “Hoarders”. We are kindred spirits in that department. I will load up my kindle and learn some more. You are such a delight. I know, that makes me sound as old as I am. 🙂

      • I like to think that I’m not old, but “vintage”! 🙂

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