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Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor

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Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor Cover

ISBN13: 9780316000666
ISBN10: 0316000663
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The landscape of American literature was fundamentally changed when Flannery O'Connor stepped onto the scene with her first published book, Wise Blood, in 1952. Her fierce, sometimes comic novels and stories reflected the darkly funny, vibrant, and theologically sophisticated woman who wrote them.

Brad Gooch brings to life O'Connor's significant friendships — with Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, Walker Percy, and James Dickey among others — and her deeply felt convictions, as expressed in her communications with Thomas Merton, Elizabeth Bishop, and Betty Hester. Hester was famously known as A in O'Connor's collected letters, The Habit of Being, and a large cache of correspondence to her from O'Connor was made available to scholars, including Brad Gooch, in 2006. O'Connor's capacity to live fully — despite the chronic disease that eventually confined her to her mother's farm in Georgia — is illuminated in this engaging and authoritative biography.

Review:

"Gooch (City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O'Hara) offers a surprisingly bloodless biography of Flannery O'Connor (1925 — 1964), who, despite the author's diligent scholarship, remains enigmatic. She emerges only in her excerpted letters, speeches and fiction, where she is as sharp-tongued, censorious, piteously observant and mordantly funny as her beloved short stories. There is little genuinely interesting new material, but there are small gems — the full story of O'Connor's friendship with the mysterious A. of her letters, for instance. Perhaps mindful of the writer's dislike of being exposed in print, Gooch errs on the side of delicacy; he does not sufficiently explore her attitudes toward blacks and how the early onset of lupus left her sequestered on her mother's Georgia farm, without the 'male companionship' she craved. Instead, he plumbs O'Connor's fiction for buried fragments of her daily life, and the revelations are hardly astonishing. Readers looking for more startling tidbits will be disappointed by this account that brims with the quiet satisfactions the author took in her industry ('I sit all day typing and grinning like the Cheshire cat'), her faith, friends and stoic approach to a debilitating disease. 16 pages of b&w photos. Two journalists reflect." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

In February 1951, Flannery O'Connor was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, the disease that had killed her father 10 years earlier at the age of 45; she died of it 13 years later at the age of 39. In between that diagnosis and her death, she wrote almost nonstop. It is a life's work slender enough to be contained in a single volume in the Library of America, yet it occupies a large place... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Flannery O'Connor, one of the best American writers of short fiction, has found her ideal biographer in Brad Gooch. With elegance and fairness, Gooch deals with the sensitive areas of race and religion in O'Connor's life. He also takes us back to those heady days after the war when O'Connor studied creative writing at Iowa. There is much that is new in this book, but, more important, everything is presented in a strong, clear light." Edmund White

Review:

"This splendid biography gives us no saint or martyr but the story of a gifted and complicated woman, bent on making the best of the difficult hand fate has dealt her, whether it is with grit and humor or with an abiding desire to make palpable to readers the terrible mystery of God's grace." Frances Kiernan

Review:

"A good biographer is hard to find. Brad Gooch is not merely good — he is extraordinary. Blessed with the eye and ear of a novelist, he has composed the life that admirers of the fierce and hilarious Georgia genius have long been hoping for." Joel Conarroe

Review:

"If O'Connor's writing glows with edged comic genius, biographer Gooch is himself no slouch. If a library is to have only one book on Flannery O'Connor, this should be it." Charles C. Nash, Library Journal

Book News Annotation:

Flannery O'Connor felt that her life wasn't interesting enough for a biography. Gooch (English, William Paterson University, NJ) begs to differ. Although O'Connor spent most of her life, apart from schooling, in Georgia, living with a mother who didn't appreciate her writing and suffering from lupus, she managed to create worlds from chance meetings and minor events. Gooch uses the image of the chicken that O'Connor taught to walk backwards as the thread through the author's stories and her own life. He also treats her unwavering Catholicism as a factor, but not the only one, in O'Connor's make up. Her literary relationship with that other devout heretic, Thomas Merton, is an example of this. Gooch has written an honest portrayal of a writer's life, one that well might have pleased and amused its subject. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

In this engaging and authoritative biography, Gooch brings to life Flannery O'Connor's significant friendships and her deeply felt convictions, as expressed in her communications with Thomas Merton, Elizabeth Bishop, and Betty Hester.

Synopsis:

The landscape of American literature was fundamentally changed when Flannery O'Connor stepped onto the scene with her first published book, Wise Blood, in 1952. Her fierce, sometimes comic novels and stories reflected the darkly funny, vibrant, and theologically sophisticated woman who wrote them. Brad Gooch brings to life O'Connor's significant friendships--with Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, Walker Percy, and James Dickey among others--and her deeply felt convictions, as expressed in her communications with Thomas Merton, Elizabeth Bishop, and Betty Hester. Hester was famously known as "A" in O'Connor's collected letters, The Habit of Being, and a large cache of correspondence to her from O'Connor was made available to scholars, including Brad Gooch, in 2006. O'Connor's capacity to live fully--despite the chronic disease that eventually confined her to her mother's farm in Georgia--is illuminated in this engaging and authoritative biography.

PRAISE FOR FLANNERY

"Flannery O'Connor, one of the best American writers of short fiction, has found her ideal biographer in Brad Gooch. With elegance and fairness, Gooch deals with the sensitive areas of race and religion in O'Connor's life. He also takes us back to those heady days after the war when O'Connor studied creative writing at Iowa. There is much that is new in this book, but, more important, everything is presented in a strong, clear light." --Edmund White

"This splendid biography gives us no saint or martyr but the story of a gifted and complicated woman, bent on making the best of the difficult hand fate has dealt her, whether it is with grit and humor or with an abiding desire to make palpable to readers the terrible mystery of God's grace." --Frances Kiernan, author of Seeing Mary Plain: A Life of Mary McCarthy

"A good biographer is hard to find. Brad Gooch is not merely good-he is extraordinary. Blessed with the eye and ear of a novelist, he has composed the life that admirers of the fierce and hilarious Georgia genius have long been hoping for." — Joel Conarroe, President Emeritus, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation

About the Author

Brad Gooch is the author of the acclaimed biography of Frank O'Hara, City Poet, as well as other nonfiction and three novels. The recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities and Guggenheim fellowships, he earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University and is Professor of English at William Paterson University in New Jersey.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Lynne Perednia, June 4, 2009 (view all comments by Lynne Perednia)
FLANNERY is an objective look at a remarkable woman who accomplished a great deal during a short life that had more than a bit of suffering and trouble. Although some aspects of her life were not explored -- why the nearly lifelong fascination with exotic birds? -- Gooch sticks to the facts while portraying O'Connor's family, her faith, her circle of friends and some idea of her feelings about racial issues while she discovered and nurtured her gift of storytelling. The end result is a renewed interest in O'Connor's work that will serve both author and reader well.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(8 of 11 readers found this comment helpful)
C Horne, March 17, 2009 (view all comments by C Horne)
Brad Gooch's "Flannery" passes the test fundamental test for excellence in a biography: when the book is finished the reader fundamentally understands the subject of the book in a way he or she did not before.
Brad Gooch's exhaustive research surely paid off as he fills in the details - about her family life, her medical conditions, her spirtual life and both the joys and difficulties of her writing. Perhaps what surprised me the most were the legion of friends and fans this very unusual women attracted living, as she did, a rather quiet life in a generally quiet place.

Professor Gooch provides his readers with a very vivid portrait of Miss O'Connor's struggles - and how her faith and her sickness found their way into her works. As a Roman Catholic myself, reflecting on Miss O'Connor's strong faith in the face of her difficulties through this biography seemed very fitting for Lent.

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(5 of 19 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780316000666
Subtitle:
A Life of Flannery O'Connor
Author:
Gooch, Brad
Publisher:
Back Bay Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
20th century
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Authors, American -- 20th century.
Subject:
O'Connor, Flannery
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Subject:
Writers; Catholics; Farm life; Letters; Female friendship; Women
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20100315
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
464
Dimensions:
9.20x6.00x1.50 in. 1.55 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Biography » Women
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Specialties
History and Social Science » World History » General
Religion » Christianity » Demonology

Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.95 In Stock
Product details 464 pages Little Brown and Company - English 9780316000666 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Gooch (City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O'Hara) offers a surprisingly bloodless biography of Flannery O'Connor (1925 — 1964), who, despite the author's diligent scholarship, remains enigmatic. She emerges only in her excerpted letters, speeches and fiction, where she is as sharp-tongued, censorious, piteously observant and mordantly funny as her beloved short stories. There is little genuinely interesting new material, but there are small gems — the full story of O'Connor's friendship with the mysterious A. of her letters, for instance. Perhaps mindful of the writer's dislike of being exposed in print, Gooch errs on the side of delicacy; he does not sufficiently explore her attitudes toward blacks and how the early onset of lupus left her sequestered on her mother's Georgia farm, without the 'male companionship' she craved. Instead, he plumbs O'Connor's fiction for buried fragments of her daily life, and the revelations are hardly astonishing. Readers looking for more startling tidbits will be disappointed by this account that brims with the quiet satisfactions the author took in her industry ('I sit all day typing and grinning like the Cheshire cat'), her faith, friends and stoic approach to a debilitating disease. 16 pages of b&w photos. Two journalists reflect." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Flannery O'Connor, one of the best American writers of short fiction, has found her ideal biographer in Brad Gooch. With elegance and fairness, Gooch deals with the sensitive areas of race and religion in O'Connor's life. He also takes us back to those heady days after the war when O'Connor studied creative writing at Iowa. There is much that is new in this book, but, more important, everything is presented in a strong, clear light."
"Review" by , "This splendid biography gives us no saint or martyr but the story of a gifted and complicated woman, bent on making the best of the difficult hand fate has dealt her, whether it is with grit and humor or with an abiding desire to make palpable to readers the terrible mystery of God's grace."
"Review" by , "A good biographer is hard to find. Brad Gooch is not merely good — he is extraordinary. Blessed with the eye and ear of a novelist, he has composed the life that admirers of the fierce and hilarious Georgia genius have long been hoping for."
"Review" by , "If O'Connor's writing glows with edged comic genius, biographer Gooch is himself no slouch. If a library is to have only one book on Flannery O'Connor, this should be it."
"Synopsis" by , In this engaging and authoritative biography, Gooch brings to life Flannery O'Connor's significant friendships and her deeply felt convictions, as expressed in her communications with Thomas Merton, Elizabeth Bishop, and Betty Hester.
"Synopsis" by , The landscape of American literature was fundamentally changed when Flannery O'Connor stepped onto the scene with her first published book, Wise Blood, in 1952. Her fierce, sometimes comic novels and stories reflected the darkly funny, vibrant, and theologically sophisticated woman who wrote them. Brad Gooch brings to life O'Connor's significant friendships--with Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, Walker Percy, and James Dickey among others--and her deeply felt convictions, as expressed in her communications with Thomas Merton, Elizabeth Bishop, and Betty Hester. Hester was famously known as "A" in O'Connor's collected letters, The Habit of Being, and a large cache of correspondence to her from O'Connor was made available to scholars, including Brad Gooch, in 2006. O'Connor's capacity to live fully--despite the chronic disease that eventually confined her to her mother's farm in Georgia--is illuminated in this engaging and authoritative biography.

PRAISE FOR FLANNERY

"Flannery O'Connor, one of the best American writers of short fiction, has found her ideal biographer in Brad Gooch. With elegance and fairness, Gooch deals with the sensitive areas of race and religion in O'Connor's life. He also takes us back to those heady days after the war when O'Connor studied creative writing at Iowa. There is much that is new in this book, but, more important, everything is presented in a strong, clear light." --Edmund White

"This splendid biography gives us no saint or martyr but the story of a gifted and complicated woman, bent on making the best of the difficult hand fate has dealt her, whether it is with grit and humor or with an abiding desire to make palpable to readers the terrible mystery of God's grace." --Frances Kiernan, author of Seeing Mary Plain: A Life of Mary McCarthy

"A good biographer is hard to find. Brad Gooch is not merely good-he is extraordinary. Blessed with the eye and ear of a novelist, he has composed the life that admirers of the fierce and hilarious Georgia genius have long been hoping for." — Joel Conarroe, President Emeritus, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation

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