Saturday, October 8, 2011

Violent Ends

It may have been a mistake for me to push to the end of Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away on a day when I've not felt at all well. The distress generated by the novel didn't help me feel better. Are stories meant to make us feel this way? The question is irrelevant - O'Connor's fiction seems full of necessary, intense truths that burn away anything we have protecting us.

I suppose it's my knowledge of the fact she wrote out of illness and suffering that's informing these judgements, if my confused responses can be dignified by such a term. She seems to go beyond such tenets of criticism anyway - the uncanny confrontation between the rationalist Rayber and the strange preacher child in Chapter 5 goes into territory that just hasn't been mapped.

So often with her work I find myself thinking I really don't get this at all, but it's just impossible to put down.

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