Years ago, I read the story “A good Man is Hard to Find“ at the recommendation of a friend. I remember staying up late to finish it, and fighting the urge to call my friend to berate her for failing to warn me about the story’s brutal impact.
Now I’ve just read Flannery O’Connor’s second novel, “The Violent Bear it Away“ with no prompting from anyone and no one to blame for my distress except for the writer’s merciless vision and brilliant prose. Her writing is peculiar, terrifying, and exhilarating. (If you’re thinking about writing fiction, it will certainly take the wind out of your sails.)
Flannery O’Connor is now officially my idol. She is fearless in going after her characters and relentless in probing their twisted relationships with god and/or morality.
Here’s what the poet Robert Lowell says: ”Much savagery, compassion, farce, art, and truth have gone into these stories. O’Connor’s characters are wholeheartedly horrible, and almost better than life. I find it hard to think of a funnier or more frightening writer.”
I could not agree more. If you’re looking for a book to remove you from your everyday reality and you’re not afraid to explore the dark Southern Gothic heart of the heart of darkness, you could not do better than “The Violent Bear it Away.”
Let me know if you read it, or if you have any recommendations for me.