Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 464 pgs
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge, 20 in 2009
Summary from Publisher:
The landscape of American literature was fundamentally changed when Flannery O'Connor stepped onto the scene with her first published book, Wise Blood, in 1952. Her fierce, sometimes comic novels and stories reflected the darkly funny, vibrant, and theologically sophisticated woman who wrote them. Brad Gooch brings to life O'Connor's significant friendships--with Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, Walker Percy, and James Dickey among others--and her deeply felt convictions, as expressed in her communications with Thomas Merton, Elizabeth Bishop, and Betty Hester. Hester was famously known as "A" in O'Connor's collected letters, The Habit of Being, and a large cache of correspondence to her from O'Connor was made available to scholars, including Brad Gooch, in 2006. O'Connor's capacity to live fully--despite the chronic disease that eventually confined her to her mother's farm in Georgia--is illuminated in this engaging and authoritative biography.
Before I begin, I must tell you, I have never read anything by Flannery O’ Connor. I may have glanced at a story of hers in high school but that was so long ago. This might have hampered my enjoyment of Gooch’s novel if it had been less interesting and badly written but, thankfully, Flannery was an interesting read in itself.
I was a bit worried when I started reading because of my lack of knowledge about Flannery O’ Connor. I was surprised when I immediately became engrossed in Flannery’s life. I became attached to her and I wanted to know more about her. She was quite the quirky character. I often found myself laughing out loud at something she said or did. She was quite the character and I really enjoyed getting to know her.
Flannery was an extremely well-written book. It was one of the few biographies that I have read that managed to be informative but not overbearing. I thought it was a really balanced portrayal of Flannery. The pictures also enhanced the material in the book. They provided an excellent visual reference point. Sometime I find that pictures are chosen for aesthetics rather than to serve a purpose but that definitely was not the case with this biography. When I wanted to get a mental image of a place that Flannery frequented, I looked in the picture insert. I did at points become confused as to who was who because of the constant parade of people through Flannery’s life but after a while the names became familiar and easy to remember when they were referenced again.
For someone who has never read a word of Flannery O’ Connor (that she can remember), I really became attached to her. I want to read her works now. And I think I will. Someday.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.