Sunday, August 2, 2009

More About Flannery O'Connor

During my recent visit to Andalusia, I learned that Flannery O'Connor's bedroom, where she did her writing, has been left pretty much untouched after her death. Her desk and typewriter were moved to the Flannery O'Connor Room of Georgia College and replicas brought to her room at Andalusia, but everything else is as she left it. So on my visit, I was fascinated to see a record player and a stack of records in one corner of the room. What kind of music did Flannery O'Connor like? I was not allowed behind the velvet rope into the room, but when I got home, I pulled out my copy of The Habit of Being, a collection of O'Connor's letters, to see what I could find out.

During the last year of her life, Fannery was given a record player by a group of Atlanta nuns. Shortly after this, Thomas Stritch, a fellow Catholic writer, sent O'Connor a stack of records. I was amused to read her thoughts on music:

I have the original Tin Ear, that is to say, the First and Prime Tin Ear. So I like music that is guaranteed good because I have no way of finding out for myself. Old stuff like Haydn that there is positively no doubt about. On my own I wouldn't know it from Music to Clean Up By.

And later:

...I don't have any preference yet though I think I like the kind that is straight up and down better than what slides around, if you know what I mean.


We are broke out with records now as Thomas sent me a box full out of his basement. All I can say about it is that all classical music sounds alike to me and all the rest of it sounds like the Beatles.

And if you've never read anything by Flannery O'Connor and don't know where to start, the best of her short stories are funny, shocking, and revelatory. Among the best are "A Good Man is Hard to Find," "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," and "Good Country People." Perhaps my very favorite is "Revelation," in which Mrs. Ruby Turpin, a shallow and self-satisfied Southern Christian, receives a message from God, delivered in an unusual way. At the end of the story she has a revelation about her place in the universe. It's deep and very funny.

1 comment:

keslie leith said...

good stuff.

somewhere i have a collection of the short stories you've mentioned here and i'm pretty sure i've read them at some point in my life; but that little bit of doubt makes me think i should make sure.