Introduced by C. E. Morgan
Illustrated by Deanna Staffo
A collection of arresting short stories by the inimitable Flannery O’Connor, with illustrations by Deanna Staffo and an introduction by C. E. Morgan.
‘His heart constricted with a repulsion for himself so clear and intense that he gasped for breath. He had stuffed his own emptiness with good works like a glutton.’ In ‘The Lame Shall Enter First’, one of the unforgettable stories in this collection, a widower realises that the charity of which he has been so indignantly proud was but a means of stifling his grief. The violent epiphany that seizes him comes too late – the tragedies wrought by self-delusion and hubris may, finally, be understood, but they may not always be repaired. This is the central theme of Flannery O’Connor’s coruscating, plain-speaking fiction: the painful, necessary salvation that emerges from catastrophic, life-changing, and sometimes life-ending, events.
‘Flannery O’Connor leaves the reader appalled, moved and deeply impressed by a literary talent that has about it the uniqueness of greatness’
O’Connor was the first fiction writer born in the 20th century to have her works collected and published by the Library of America. She grew up in a Roman Catholic family in Savannah, Georgia and stated that her writing was an expression of her religious commitment. Her characters are torn between the sensory and the spiritual, many of them gripped by morbid preoccupations as they attempt unsuccessfully to unite these dual impulses. Warped park guard Enoch Emery performs ritualistic tours, spying on female bathers and aggravating the animals at the zoo, awaiting the sign that will tell him to reveal the ‘mystery’ at ‘The Heart of the Park’. Many are fanatics, like the blind preacher in ‘The Peeler’. They, and their stories, are comic-grotesque, intertwining glimpses of the transcendental world with physical and psychological horror. This selection includes ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’ and ‘Everything that Rises Must Converge’, two of O’Connor’s best-known works. Deanna Staffo’s powerful illustrations capture O’Connor’s Southern settings and macabre, surrealistic style. In a compelling introduction, American author C. E. Morgan, selected as one of The New Yorker’s prestigious ‘20 Under 40’ writers, explores the stories’ uncompromising, idiosyncratic wisdom.
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