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Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose


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ISBN13: 9780374508043
ISBN10: 0374508046
Condition: Standard
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Felicity, July 18, 2009 (view all comments by Felicity)
This is an excellent book about fiction, why (in one practitioner's opinion) to write it, read it, and value it. Flannery O'Connor has a matter-of-fact approach to big topics like the philosophy of art, and suffers neither fools nor mediocrity. This collection of her lectures and essays is so pithy that I was often moved to jot down quotes for later use. Some of these follow my review. O'Connor has much to say that is wise and useful, and nothing that pulls its punches. The book is one of those rare and fabulous writing craft books that made me laugh out loud.

The last part of the volume, which concerns being a Catholic writer, writing the Catholic novel, et cetera, is of less use to a non-Catholic or non-Christian writer. However, some of the sections in the first part of the work where the author discusses how her religion supplies the Mystery for her art are useful to any writer interested in the sources of creativity.

"Fiction begins where human knowledge begins -- with the senses -- and every fiction writer is bound by this fundamental aspect of his medium."

"Art is a word that immediately scares people off, as being a little too grand. But all I mean by art is writing something that is valuable in itself and that works in itself."

"It's always necessary to remember that the fiction writer is much less immediately concerned with grand ideas and bristling emotions than he is with putting list slippers on clerks." (example of the clerk from Mme. Bovary)

"There is no excuse for anyone to write fiction for public consumption unless he has been called to do so by the presence of a gift. It is the nature of fiction not to be good for much unless it is good in itself."
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uwant2know, November 19, 2007 (view all comments by uwant2know)
All English is someones view, this book again just someone elses view on how English should be.
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RobTheVaughn, August 25, 2007 (view all comments by RobTheVaughn)
O'Connor, one of America's finest writers, was also an expert speaker - able to write speeches as effective and amazing as her fiction. This collection will be greatly enjoyed by fans of her work who wish to understand some of the thinking behind them, or for anyone interested in the art & process of writing. Buy this book before you waste money on a writing workshop, because O'Connor understood writing far better than than workshop "experts". After all, those who can't do, teach. O'Connor proves in these writings that she was a do'er, not a talker.
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boo, April 26, 2006 (view all comments by boo)
we had to read flannery o'connor in english and it is very boring
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Product Details

Fitzgerald, Saly
Fitzgerald, Sally
Fitzgerald, Sally; Fitzgerald, Robert
Fitzgerald, Saly
Fitzgerald, Robert
O'Connor, Flannery
Fitzgerald, Sally
Farrar Straus Giroux
New York
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.27 x 5.5 x 0.715 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Essays
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Sale Books

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose Used Trade Paper
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Product details 256 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374508043 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Includes bibliographical references (p. 235-237)
"Synopsis" by ,

This bold and brilliant collection is a must for all readers, writers, and students of American literature

When she died in 1964, Flannery O'Connor left behind a body of unpublished essays and lectures as well as a number of critical articles that had appeared in scattered publications during her lifetime. The brilliant pieces in Mystery and Manners, selected and edited by O'Connor's lifelong friends Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, are characterized by the boldness and simplicity of her style, a fine-tuned wit, understated perspicacity, and profound faith.

     The book opens with "The King of the Birds," her famous account of raising peacocks at her home in Milledgeville, Georgia. There are three essays on regional writing, including "The Fiction Writer and His Country" and "Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction"; two on teaching literature, including "Total Effect and the Eighth Grade"; and four on the writer and religion, including "The Catholic Novel in the Protestant South." Essays such as "The Nature and Aim of Fiction" and "Writing Short Stories" are gems. Their value to the contemporary reader—and writer—is inestimable.

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