5 thoughts on “Flannery O’Connor: Complete Stories”

    “His throat was going to pop on account of a nigger – a damn nigger that patted him on the back and called him ‘old-timer’.”
    A pungent, abrasive period-text that really bites your eye-dust, as this old-timer from possum country needs to live with his daughter in New York, as he tries to acclimatise himself to the endless buildings and the new peckiing orders, eased at least by the habitual appearance of a geranium in the opposite apartment each day between certain hours… Until even that crashes to the ground.
    The sound of the word ‘geranium’ sounds to me like a word for a comfort stop for an old-timer’s frequently loose urinations like mine?

    “They couldn’t say Negro–nigger–colored–black. Jacobs said he had come home every night and shouted, ‘NIGGER NIGGER NIGGER’ out the back window.”
    My reading today this story from the 1940s for the first time has amazingly come at the exact triangulation of the Brexit coordinates in 2016 – and Brexit’s hindsight racist raison d’etre. Foresight, too, no doubt.
    Here a customer has passing time’s recurring argument with a barber about voting for a then current election’s progressive candidate, an argument in the hearing of the black boy who sweeps up after each shave. And the bitter confused emotions where the lathered bib is not removed when the progressive customer leaves amid the sound of society’s blades sharpening, I imagine. I feel this story was uncannily written, in prophecy, for the time of Brexit…for my eyes and this opportune real-time review.
    Brexit as a word sounds like a blade snagging on a whisker…a faltering gash.

    • Flannery O’Connor (1925 – 1964) – from back cover:
      “She is a modern writer in the widest sense, in that her stories are all preoccupied with obsessions at the heart of our modern world.”

    “Old Gabriel shuffled across the room waving his stick slowly sideways in front of him.”
    [Yesterday I had not read any of these stories when I instinctively set up that art installation of a photo for this book’s review, and I had no idea that quote was coming up in this story!]
    This is a story of a blind old man mainly in a rexited dialect of abrasive dialogue layered with similar in rooted prose, with his remembering a boyhood when a wildcat killed someone (tellingly a ‘nigger’ in the old man’s amoral parlance but moral in retributive hindsight), and now — in a Poe-like ‘Tell-Tale Heart’ type of suspense – he awaits his own similar destiny. A striking portrait of growing death-dementia.