Everything That Rises Must Converge

O’Connor, Flannery. Everything That Rises Must Converge. New York: The Library of America, 1988.

Reason read: September is Southern Writers Month.

Flannery O’Connor’s short stories are like the crack of the whip dangerously close to your head. Sometimes humorous, sometimes peculiar, often times violent, but always breathtakingly true. Imagine the nervous laughter that bubbles up when you realize that whip has missed your face. You laugh because you want it to be a skillful miss as opposed to a clumsy mistake. Imagine the quirkiness of characters who are dangerously misunderstood. There is always something a little sinister about O’Connor. She enjoys the abrupt turn of events that take her readers by surprise. She holds us witness to the good, the bad, and the ugly of humanity.
Everything That Rises Must Converge is a compilation of nine short stories:

  • “Everything That Rises Must Converge” – we start with the discomfort of a mother’s obvious prejudice.
  • “Greenleaf” – a fight over property and propriety.
  • “A View of the Woods” – a punch to the gut when you least expect it.
  • “The Enduring Chill” – another tale about an overbearing mother.
  • “The Comforts of Home” – mother and son disagree about taking a brash girl into their home.
  • “The Lame Shall Enter First” – a widower tried to take in a second son with horrible results.
  • “Revelation” – another story heavy on the racism.
  • “Parker’s Back” – a man obsessed with tattoos
  • “Judgement Day” – an elderly and racist father is terrified of dying in New York City.

Quotes I liked, “There was a continuous thud in the back of Asbury’s head as if his heart and got trapped in it and was fighting to get out” (p 565), and “Behind the newspaper Julian was withdrawing into the inner compartment of his mind where he spent most of his time” (p 603), and “In addition to her other bad qualities, she was forever sniffing up sin” (p 655).

Author fact: Flannery O’Connor died too young at the age of thirty-nine. Imagine the books and stories she could have written had she lived to a hundred!

Nancy said: Pearl didn’t say anything specific about Everything That Rises Must Converge in “Growing Writers” or “Southern Fiction” but she did mention O’Connor as a great fiction-writer and a classic.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust twice. Once in the chapter called “Growing Writers” (p 107), and again in the chapter called “Southern Fiction” (p 222).


A Good Man Is Hard to Find

O’Connor, Flannery. Collected Works. Sally Fitzgerald, ed. Library of America, 1988.

A Good Man is Hard to Find is a compilation of ten short stories by Flannery O’Connor. In order they are “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, “The River”, “The Life You Save might Be Your Own”, “A Stroke of Good Fortune”, “A Temple of the Holy Ghost”, “The Artificial Nigger”, “A Circle in the Fire”, “A Late Encounter with the Enemy”, “Good Country People”, and “The Displaced Person.” All ten stories have three significant things in common: a Southern twang, underlying religious tones and lots of interesting and deep characters with problems, some problems more obvious and serious than others. The title, A Good Man is Hard to Find comes from the first short story in the compilation (my favorite) and is a phrase first uttered by a restaurant owner outside of Atlanta, Georgia. He is discussing a serial killer on a rampage last seen somewhere in Florida. The rest of the stories center mostly in the rural areas surrounding the south, especially Atlanta, Georgia.

Favorite lines: From “A Good Man in Hard to Find” – “the trees were full of silver-white sunlight and the meanest of them sparkled” (p 138).
From “The River” – “He seemed to be mute and patient, like an old sheepdog waiting to be let out” (p 155).
From “The Life You Save Might Be Your Own” – “She was ravenous for a son-in-law” (p 177).
From” “A Stroke of Good Fortune” – “…in a voice of sultry subdued wrath” (p 184. Okay, that wasn’t a complete sentence but I liked the wording. From “Good Country People” – “She took all his shame away and turned it into something useful” (p 276).

Author Fact: Flannery O’Connor continues to inspire people in all forms of artistry. Just Google her name and see the interesting things that pop up.

Book Trivia: A Good Man Is Hard to Find was referenced in an 1994 episode of the Simpsons.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Grit Lit” (p 106).