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View Diary: Books That Changed My Life—Which Writer Do You REALLY Dislike? (93 comments)

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  •  Flannery O'Connor (7+ / 0-)

    highly overrated, and extremely unpleasant to read.

    One gets the sense that she really, really dislikes the characters she writes about. In which case, why would I spend my time reading her work?

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 05:54:23 AM PDT

    •  Interesting, limpidglass! (6+ / 0-)

      Yes, her work is highly regarded by the lit-crit community, isn't it? However, after being forced to read "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" in school, I resolved never to read her again.

      You said:

      ...highly overrated, and extremely unpleasant to read.
      Amen, limpidglass!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 06:00:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sacrilege! (10+ / 0-)

        One reader's onion is another's persimmon, I guess. I would place Wise Blood in my top 100 books--and might even slip in Everything That Rises Must Converge onto that list.

        What I find most fascinating is limpidglass's observation that she "really dislikes the characters she writes about." I feel exactly the opposite; to me there is a love and understanding in her writing--even when it revolves around some admittedly unlikable characters.

         

        •  P Carey, this is truly a case of "different (5+ / 0-)

          strokes."  :)

          What I hated about "A Good Man" is that it was too real.  I felt as if I were there--a particularly unpleasant "there" at that.  Won't add details for fear of spoiling the pleasure of those who haven't yet read it and wish to do so.

          "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

          by Diana in NoVa on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 06:31:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  in my opinion, she's didactic (3+ / 0-)

          her characters are means to her end, i.e. preaching her sermon.

          Stock types populate her fiction: the overeducated, ineffectual young man who leaves the South for college but comes back, the complacent, prosperous matron who looks down on the unfortunate, etc.

          They don't have any individuality, because she never cared to give it to them. She moves them around like chess pieces to get to her desired conclusion. I don't sense that she has any affection for them, or takes them at all seriously. If they don't meet her moral standards, she has no problem condemning them to horrible fates.

          I don't mind unlikable characters. But if the author cares nothing for her characters, then why should I?

          One of my favorite short stories is Counterparts, by Joyce. The protagonist is very unlikable, he's a loutish, brutal drunk. Yet Joyce imagines this character with such loving attention to detail that you understand him and his situation completely at the end, and empathize with him.

          I have never gotten that sense from O'Connor's work, ever. Particularly egregious is The Lame Shall Enter First, with its melodramatic shock ending, that seemed to me like something out of a Hallmark movie-of-the-week. So because the protagonist was an atheist who tried to help a wayward kid, he deserved what he got? I just felt O'Connor judging him, and I thought: where does she get off doing that?

          Of course, others will see different things in her work, but this is what I see.

          "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

          by limpidglass on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 01:58:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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