Friday, July 24, 2009


I'm currently half way through the excellent Brad Gooch biography of Flannery O'Connor. I expect Flannery was a rather difficult person to get to know. I also suspect I would have been besotted by her. There's something about the sheer intensity of her personality that is fascinating. She seems to have been impervious to fashions or trends or the need to be anything other than herself. It's an admirable trait, particularly considering how young she was when she was Iowa. I still find her world view and her novels unpleasant, but I think I would have enjoyed arguing (and probably losing the argument) with her.

On the subject of her writing craft, she wrote to her putative agent: 'I don't have my novel [Wise Blood] outlined and I have to write to discover what I am doing. Like the old lady, I don't know so well what I think until I see what I say; then I have to say it over again.'

That's a great sentiment, and a great way to approach writing (which, of course, is to say it's the way I choose to write...) I'm not sure exactly how true it is of Flannery, given that a. she consciously rewrote Wise Blood after having read Oedipus Rex to include the blinding scene, and b. even if she wasn't guiding the story, her God most certainly was, since her characters act totally according to religious/atheist type throughout; but nonetheless the natural, organic way of writing she espouses is certainly exciting to do and leads to unexpected results.

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