The Mystery of the Craziness in Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor (Courtesy
The Southern writer’s tortured life shines a light on her dark tales.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE F ew writers can say they even attempted to accomplish what Flannery O’Connor did: to carve out their own distinctive genre. O’Connor’s two novels and 32 short stories combined three factors — the Southern, the Catholic, and the grotesque — to create a black-comic effect like no other. “She just saw the mystery of the craziness,” says fellow novelist Alice Walker.

Biography is often a fallow field in which to search for clues to a writer’s imagination, but not so in this case, as the documentary Flannery ably shows us. Mary Flannery O’Connor had a sequestered, tormented, devout, and brief life, largely


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