The Complete Stories, National Book Award 1972

I write her name with honor, for all the truth and all the craft with which she shows man's fall and his dishonor.

-Thomas Merton, about O'Connor

It's taken me a couple of months to get through this thick book of short stories. Some of them a hard to digest; not because they are so terrible but because some of them lack a clear plot. The opening story, The Geranium, left me feeling that perhaps some pages were missing from the book. Several stories run this way. I suppose we sometimes get so used to being hit over the head with a lesson about humanity it a jarring way that when we see the mundane showing us a much sutler lesson it is more difficult to find it.

It is said that one of the most remarkable things about O'Connor's work is that she was so young but had such a clear idea of how people worked and lived and thought. She drew very detailed portraits of her characters. To the reader they are very real. We know these people in our own families and friends, casual acquaintances, people we run into in the street.

Some readers are put off by the frequent use of a common racial slur. O'Connor uses the common language of the South from between 1946 till her death in 1964. Another trait of many of her stories is the elderly parent/adult child relationship. Often the parents believe their children are worthless no-goods and the children are angry and spiteful. Clearly no one is listening to anyone else or looking out for each other.

All of the stories are interesting to think on. I think all of them can gain more significance by knowing more about the author's background and life. I plan to read Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose in the near future.


    I've only read a few of her stories, but they certainly did make me think. Thank you for the great review.

    I read "A Good Man is Hard to Find," and I found it hard to read, too, although I can still recal many of the characters. They are so vividly written. I appreciated an analysis of Flannery O'Connor by Credenda Agenda, at