Flannery O’Connor, patron saint of short-story writers, is nearly synonymous with the Southern Gothic tradition. O’Connor was a woman of religious conviction and macabre imagination, and she left a long legacy. As another artist famous for imposing Catholic imagery on a distinctly American landscape, Bruce Springsteen, once said, “the short stories of Flannery O’Connor landed hard on me. You could feel within them the unknowability of God, the intangible mysteries of life that confounded her characters, and which I find by my side every day. They contained the dark Gothicness of my childhood and yet made me feel fortunate to sit at the center of this swirling black puzzle, stars reeling overhead, the earth barely beneath us.”
O’Connor, who died in 1964, would have been 90 today. To honor her, here are five of her best quotes on writing, faith, and the mysteries of life.
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The word “spinster” refers to an unmarried woman, and is most often synonymous with the stereotype of the past-her-prime old maid, a woman who hasn’t made a good match and who’s doomed to live an unfulfilling life. Well, that’s just stereotypes talking, because… hey, what’s wrong with that, exactly? The answer is absolutely nothing. Pop culture has given us some pretty great spinsters (although on average they do fall within a specific, homogenous, moneyed, and white demographic). So here are our 30 favorite writers, artists, and fictional characters who show the freedom that comes from living an unmarried life — female characters who are defined by their wants and desires, and not characterized through the simple scrim of their relationships.
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Literary biography is a hugely significant, if often overlooked, enterprise. Today, much of what we know about the authors we admire is filtered through an ocean of online mini-biographies, nearly all of which are copies of copies. The original source of an enormous amount of this information is the literary biography, and in the case of most authors, there are precious few examples of such books. Even exceedingly famous authors are gifted only a handful of quality biographies. With this in mind, I’ve come up with a list of 50 essential literary… Read More
Everybody out there could stand to be a little more interesting. Yes, even you, trilingual lion-tamer astrophysicist reader. And you know what makes you more interesting? Books, of course. (You knew it was going to be books, because you’re already a little interesting) But not just any books. Some books have more capacity to raise your interest level than others. Here’s a list of 50 books that will make you smarter, funnier, deeper, and yes, more interesting — at least to some… Read More
We’ve reached the time of year when the days seem impossibly short and the nights never ending. Good if you’re a vampire or like to go to sleep early, less exciting for the rest of us. So what is one to do with all this extra darkness? Well, read some dark books, of course. Because there’s nothing better to cut through the literal gloom than to curl up with some intellectual doom. All you need is a tiny light to see your book by. Read on for 50 gloriously dark novels to read during these dark days. After a while, you may even stop wishing for the light to… Read More
For a reader, there’s something magical about picking up a first novel — that promise of discovery, the possibility of finding a new writer whose work you can love for years to come, the likelihood of semi-autobiography for you to mull over. The debut is even more important for the writer — after all, you only get one first impression. Luckily, there are a lot of fantastic first impressions to be had. Click through for some of the greatest first novels written since 1950 — some that sparked great careers, some that are still the writers’ best work, and some that remain free-standing.… Read More
Southern Gothic cinema owes a lot to the great Tennessee Williams, whose stunning stage plays became evocative films. Works like A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof introduced moviegoers to the steamy South, revealing its sinister side. Trading the grand for the grotesque, Southern Gothic cinema was born from the literary genre made famous by authors like Flannery O’Connor and Harper Lee. These films brought the genre’s penchant for sex, secrets, and betrayal to the big screen. Williams is currently the subject of a Film Forum retrospective. Inspired by his Southern Gothic style, here are ten films that capture the dark heart of the South.
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Now that September is here and school is back in session, a writer’s thoughts turn to the eternal question: Is an MFA worth it? Ever since the publication of the Chad Harbach-edited anthology MFA vs. NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction earlier in the year, the perennial neurosis about whether or not an advanced degree in writing is worth it has become a progressively louder conversation. It’s one that we should be having, considering the explosion of the MFA in the past 40 years: from a mere 79 programs in 1979 to 854 today, according to Harbach. The MFA may even be having its moment — after all, the last shot of Girls Season 3 had Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath joyfully looking at her acceptance to Iowa. We checked in with some of our favorite writers from then and now to see what they think of the rise of the… Read More
Listicles, tweets, your ex’s Facebook status, picture of dogs wearing costumes — the internet offers no shortage of entertaining stuff to look at. But there’s plenty of substantial writing out there, too, the pieces you spend a few minutes reading and a long time thinking about after you’ve closed the tab. In this weekly feature, Flavorwire shares the best of that category. This time around: editing while you work, Hilton Als on Flannery O’Connor’s prayers, and more.
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Listicles, tweets, your ex’s Facebook status, picture of dogs wearing costumes — the internet offers no shortage of entertaining stuff to look at. But there’s plenty of substantial writing out there, too, the pieces you spend a few minutes reading and a long time thinking about after you’ve closed the tab. In this weekly feature, Flavorwire shares the best of that category. This week: LGBTQ books, Flannery O’Connor being extra awesome, Mavis Staples on The Last Waltz, and more.
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