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August 07, 2006



I've been pestering Ken for years to put up "Jesus is a Trick on Niggers" as WFMU homepage slogan, but for some reason there is resistance.

But seriously, I remember reading that Springsteen was reading nothing but Flannery O'Connor when he wrote and recorded "Nebraska." You hear a lot of her dark humor and sense of mystery in the lyrics, for instance, the first song "Nebraska":

Sheriff when the man pulls
That switch sir and snaps my poor neck back
You make sure my pretty baby Is sittin' right there on my lap

They declared me unfit to live
Said into that great void my soul'd be hurled
They wanted to know why I did what I did
Well sir I guess there's just a meanness in this world

Debbie Daughtry

Great post, Scott! I started re-reading Good Man again just last week. Something about the stifling heat makes for a perfect combination.


Just to make sure there are NO misunderstandings, the quote in the above comment comes from O'Connor's Novel "Wise Blood." If anyone is offended by my cavalier use of the n-word, I apologize in advance and I understand if the blog editors decide to alter or remove the post.


Re: Scott Williams' Guitar Face. Couldn't you find even one single picture of a woman guitarist? Not to be excessively PC, but this far into the 21st Century, must we STILL be subjected to that adolscent boy guitar god fantasy? Music is made with skill, imagination, and artistry, not testosterone....


Interesting misplaced comment there.

It got me thinking about Cordell Jackson, who, it just so happens, looked a whole lot like Flannery O'Connor


Hey Enchilada, interesting, misplaced comment - and wrong, bruh. There's actually -9-count-em-nine pics of women guitarists there. One of em being the main pic that represents the entire set. So I accept your taking it back with apology, off topic tho it may be.

Hey Flot, have no fear - Ken & me was laughing our asses off at your proposal. --Scott


By the way, in my humble opinion, the greatest and most criminally-neglected O'Connor story is "The Enduring Chill." It's about a disaffected southern bohemian who returns home from a miserable experience living in the East Village and becomes convinced that he's dying. His pathetic attempts to establish what he thinks is solidarity with the local minorities, especially the Catholic priest and the black workers, is O'Connor's serio-comic brilliance at its best. The condescending, self-dramatizing liberal personality has never been more artfully skewered. And the story ends with one of most improbable visions of the Holy Ghost ever committed to paper----second only to Felicite's vision of the stuffed parrot in Flaubert's "A Simple Heart."

Jason from Bloomington, IN

wrt audio of O'Connor's voice:
A friend of mine took a class on Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy a few years back at Wheaton College in Illinois and she mentioned her teacher bringing in some tapes of O'Conner reading her fiction and possibly some essays as well. My memory is foggy, it's been awhile. Might try the Wheaton library. I'd really like to hear her voice too.


Thanks a lot Jason, it's a place to start! Of course, if I'm able to score some audio I'll post it. Hey, also - F O'C was interviewed by Harvey Breit in 1955 for an NBC TV show, but I have no idea if it aired. I'd love to see that footage, if it exists.


Yeah, I was totally obsessed with FOC for a while. I still count her stories among my favorite short works in the language, up there with Dahl (she's much better than Dahl, but he's such a deliciously nasty mind I give him a boost).

I think I read somewhere that when she first showed up at the the professor's office to get into the writer's workshop in Iowa or wherever she was, she said something two or three times which he had to ask her to write down. Apparently it was something like, "my name is Flannery O'Connor. Can I join your writing seminar?"

If you find recordings, rip them and post them, please.

Christina Ray

Flannery's my idol. My favorite story of hers is "Revelation" which contains one of my most beloved lines in all of literature:

“Go back to hell where you came from, you old wart hog.”

Thanks for the post.

Damon Creed

A visit to FOC's home Andalusia Farm ( is well worth the 2-2.5 hour drive south of Atlanta to Milledgeville GA. It's open to the public and very neat to spend time walking the grounds featured in some of her stories. Fine barbecue along the way too. And don't forget Killdozer's fine tribute to FOC, "Lupus."


So why has no one mentioned Sufjan Stevens's "A Good Man is Hard To Find" yet? Maybe because I was meant to.

Admit it: the world makes much more sense now that I've done so.


Hmmm. Spell (not the Boyd Rice/Rose McDowall one-off, but a garage-rock trio from Denver) had a little ditty called "Hazel Motes" on their album "Mississippi" - as I recall, it didn't explicitly reference "Wise Blood", but there was a definite heretical/nihilist bent to the lyrics ("he's got power and grace/we are nothing, so he takes/he comes from miles away/he lives where people pray").
For explicit Flannery homage, though, there's always Polly Harvey's "Joy", "The River", and "No Girl So Sweet" (I always wished someone would've remixed "Joy" and called it the Manley Pointer Mix - tee hee)... and, on the flat-out bizarre tip, Primal Scream's "Stuka". ("I got Jesus in my head like a stinger/moves from tree to tree in the back of my mind/a ragged shadowy figure/I got Him, I got original sin", drawled through a vocoder and set to a dub reggae beat... buhwha?!)
Great post, by the way - it's reassuring to know that I'm not the only person kindasortamaybejustalittle crushing on Flannery. (Or just in need of a little mythology.)

Mark P.

Some thoughts related to what I've read so far:

-Further clarification on Fatherflot's qoute "Jesus is a trick on niggers" -- the statement is NOT part of FOC's belief. It's a statement she clearly didn't support.

-The Misfit does not represent Christ (see "The Habit of Being," her letter to Dr. TR Spivey, 25 May 59), though he is a vehicle by which Grace is offered to the Grandmother. The Grandmother acts on through Grace, and she herself becomes a vehicle for Grace, which the Misfit rejects (though O'Connor suggests in "Mystery and Manners" that the Misfit is not a hopeless character -- that the Grace offered may be a long working thing eventually resulted in Redemption)

-Flannery O'Connor didn't like "The Enduring Chill" very much, which I don't get because I like it myself. She thought it wasn't dramatic enough -- dragged too much.

-My favorite FOC stories are "A Good Man is Hard to Find," "The Displaced Person," "Good Country People," "Greenleaf," "A View of the Woods," "The Lame Shall Enter First," and "Revelation." I think above all her short stories, though, I love her novel "The Violent Bear it Away."

-I've looked for FOC reading her own stories and have found it nowhere on the web. Shame.

Mark P.

It would be a vast mistake to try to make O'Connor's work about race. She wrote about the South of her era because that's what she knew, and she would never presume to write in ignorance. Racial issues are in her stories because she that was the background in which she lived. However, she was neither a bigot nor an activist. She approved of Martin Luther King Jr. and considered herself an integrationalist. In her experience, she said, "The uneducated Southern Negro is not the clown he is made out to be. He's a man of very elaborate manners and great formality which he uses superbly for his own protection and to insure his own privacy."

Her characters are often racist because Southerners were often so. She did not support such views but, while opposed to such racism, she often did not condemn her racist characters, recognizing a level of helplessness in those who were born and bred into racism.

The saddest thing that could happen to FOC's work is to peg it into a category that we've established for her (civil rights activist, bigot, modernist, moralist, commentator on the Degeneracy of the South, etc) and miss the true depth to her stories: stories of Grace and Redemption, the Divine and the diabolical.


You dont think that "The Artificial Nigger" is about racism?

pat cawley

"AEDM A0810 Audio (Cassette) : Flannery O'Connor reads from A Good Man"

I would like to listen to this too.
Let me know if it can be obtained.
I thought about asking my library to try to get it.

patrick cawley

Flannery O'Connor reads from A Good Man cassette tape purchased for $25 from above source.


A copy of the Flannery O'Connor reading of "A Good Man is Hard to Find" can be obtained from the Notre Dame Archives.
A cd is 40 dollars, a cassette copy is 25 dollars. The recording is approximately 40 min. long


Texas Prairie Chicken

The now defunct September 67 also had a tune entitled "Hazel Motes."

Dave Perkins

The Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture program at Vanderbilt University is throwing a party for Flannery---all proceeds to benefit the Flannery O'Connor-Andalusia Foundation. February 19th, 2009 @ Mercy Lounge (Nashville). Featured performers include Over the Rhine, Mary Gauthier, and Minton Sparks. Come on down!



" And the story ends with one of most improbable visions of the Holy Ghost ever committed to paper----second only to Felicite's vision of the stuffed parrot in Flaubert's "A Simple Heart.""

So I'm not the only one who totally thought of the stuffed parrot from "A Simple Heart" when reading about the Holy Ghost water stain! I'm relieved.

Jim Groom

Very late to this party, but check out Flannery O'Connor reading "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

Enjoy the accent, trying to get up her commentary before the reading, but ripping VOB files to audio is proving to be a bitch.

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