Calvin Lashway of Las Cruces, NM, weighed in recently with this interview with Jonathan Rogers, author of a new book: The Terrible Speed of Mercy: A Spiritual Biography of Flannery O’Connor.”
Here’s how the interview begins:
“Interviewer Trevin Wax: What initially attracted you to Flannery O’Connor’s work?
Jonathan Rogers: I grew up in Middle Georgia, fifty miles from Flannery O’Connor’s Milledgeville. Long before I read any of her stories, I had heard of the peculiar writer who had lived up the road. I heard a few anecdotes from people who had actually met her, and she seemed so charming and likable and – well, normal – that it was hard to imagine that she was the same person who wrote those dark, sometimes gruesome stories.
The incongruity was sharpened by the fact that she looked like some of the women in my family. On the one hand, it felt like Flannery O’Connor was old home folks. She looked like my people, talked like my people, went to some of the same places my people went. But on the other hand, she wrote about things that my people wouldn’t ever talk about.
I have been aware of that incongruity for almost as long as I have been aware of Flannery O’Connor, long before I knew anything about her faith commitments, which make her even more perplexing for many readers. Those incongruities are at the center of my biography: how could this woman have written these stories?”…
Some quotes from Flannery O’Connor who as you may or may not know, suffered for years from, and died of lupus at the age of 39:
“Sickness is a place.”
“The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.”
“The type of mind that can understand good fiction is not necessarily the educated mind, but it is at all times the kind of mind that is willing to have its sense of mystery deepened by contact with reality, and its sense of reality deepened by contact with mystery.”
As Rogers observes: “Mostly she let herself be misinterpreted.”