Review by Choice Review
These ten politically correct essays provide contemporary perspectives on Flannery O'Connor's work: its marketing and reception; gender, rhetorical, and stylistic issues; O'Connor's asceticism as a necessary corollary of her art; and her treatment of southern society. Essays by Marshall Bruce Gentry and Mary Neff Shaw on conflicts between O'Connor's narrators and her characters provide helpful close readings. Sarah Gordon's essay on "The Crop," an apprentice story depicting a would-be southern female writer's search for an appropriate subject, is especially instructive on the gender question. To find her own vision and voice, O'Connor had to reject the domestic role for women and society's demands that she "act pretty." Patricia Yaeger's startling essay on the grotesque indicts racist, sexist southern society as the source of deformity and sadism in O'Connor's fiction, the subject of which is not Catholicism but an absurd social system that makes insanity and cruelty the norm. Yaeger says O'Connor tortures both her characters and her readers in writing of precariously constructed values and contradictory codes in a society falling apart. These essays, all on the abuse of power, are cogently argued and well written with strong conclusions. All academic collections. M. S. Stephenson University of Texas at Brownsville
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