Friday, October 10, 2008

Birthday present

Another addition to my arsenal: Flannery O'Connor: Unmasking the Devil by Regis Martin. Anyone whose obsession with Flannery borders on idolatry will enjoy this brief and readable ode to her greatness. A few gems from Martin:

"In short, to read Flannery O'Connor with an adequacy of attention is, as someone once suggested, on the order of Horatio seeing the ghost of Hamlet's father: 'It harrows me with fear and wonder.' How well, in other words, she could separate out the sentimental syrup, the cloying treacle of so much contemporary literature, seeing right to the bone and marrow of real meaning. Not to have understood this, of course, and thus to be pulverized and never quite know why, is the fate of all sentimentalists" (45).

"Her preferred way to persuade the godless that God had better not be dead . . was to spin tales which truthfully rendered the consequences of their belief that He was. Here she would unfailingly flesh out for her readers what surely must remain the most ludicrous aspect of our fall from grace, to wit, our persisting and sentimental refusal to acknowledge that we had and have" (42).

"Even at its antiseptic best, ours is an age wrapped in cellophane. Can it not be a good thing, now and again, to pierce the cellophane?" (34)

Pierce away.

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