Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Ridiculous Reviewers On Amazon: One Star Review for Flannery O'Connor

Today's ridiculous one star Amazon reviewer picked up a copy of Flannery O'Connor's Complete Stories and did not find it to her liking!

I love Flannery O'Connor. LOVE her. I would marry her. If I wasn't already married. And also if she were still alive. And maybe if she hadn't been born in 1925, that's a little outside my "acceptable age range" for dating. Sorry pre-1926 ladies out there! My wife even lets me keep this photo of her by my bed, although she thought it was my grandmother until recently.

AND (this is true) I tried to convince Krista to name our most recent child Flannery. Unfortunately, the name means something to the effect of "a flat gray rock" and that wasn't going to fly. So we named her Baby M instead.

The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor
Reading Flannery O'Connor takes me to another place. Her unblinking eye focused on both the sublime image of God and the ingrained depravity in the midst of everyday humanity is absolutley riveting. I've read and re-read stories like "A Good Man is Hard to Find" (maybe the best short story in the English language... no, really) and "Parker's Back" (not one of her critically beloved stories, but I think my favorite out of all of them). If you're a writer (particularly a Christian writer) and haven't read her essays in Mystery and Manners then you Must. Go. Now. and find yourself a copy. It will change your life. Shhhh. Stop thinking about it and go get it.

And now, here is our one star review of a collection of stories by the greatest writer of short stories that the United States has yet to produce:

Not what I expected...,
May 14, 2007
Julie Gohring This review is from: The Complete Stories (Paperback)
A group of seniors from our church were planning a visit to the author's childhood home. I thought it would be a great idea to purchase this book as a little prize for the trip.
I read a couple of the short stories and found them to be a bit disturbing. Not at all what I expected. I do not need to have a "happy ever after" ending to stories but I read as an escape into anothter world. I did not enjoy visiting the world through Flannery O'Connor's eyes. Sorry.
First of all, Amazon Reviewer Julie Gohring, please allow me to say that we forgive you.

It was, in fact, a common criticism of O'Connor's work that it was too brutal or cynical or violent (etc.) which was and continues to be to miss the point of her work. O'Connor believed that a true artist must strive to represent the world as it is, not as one wishes it to be, and that only the unabashedly truthful work had any power to transform the reader.

Here's what she said about one of her more famous and controversial stories, about a family whose car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, only to be discovered by an escaped convict and his cronies:

I am mighty tired of reading reviews that call A Good Man [Is Hard to Find] brutal and sarcastic.  The stories are hard but they are hard because there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian realism.  I believe that there are many rough beasts now slouching toward Bethlehem to be born and that I have reported the progress of a few of them, and when I see these stories described as horror stories I am always amused because the reviewer always has hold of the wrong horror. 

For those of you who have never read any O'Connor, I envy you because you're about to make one of those amazing discoveries when you find that the written word is more powerful and wonderful than you thought possible.

In other news: Flannery O'Connor's childhood home? Five Stars!!!!!

Here's a link to previous ridiculous reviews.


  1. I love this 1 star review thing you're doing. You make me wish I had thought if it. Great, great stuff for all kinds of reasons. And you're not smarmy about it, which shows your heart. Peace.

  2. OK ... the most disturbing thing about this review is that she found the stories only "a bit" disturbing... no, one doesn't read O'connor for an escape ... unless, of course, one lives in a very simple, happy place with uncomplicated people and needs to escape from that...

  3. We read lots of Flannery O'Connor in high school... or at least two stories. We read "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and "The Lottery." Our high school English teacher assigned a project at the end of the year in which the entire class had to work together to film a scene from each of the novels we read, and at least one short story. To film the Lottery, we dressed one of our male classmates up as a woman and stoned him with rocks made from newspaper and duct tape. I have a really difficult time taking that story seriously now, but I have very fond memories of my Junior English class, even though my life is very different from what it was in High School now.