Good Things Out of Nazareth: The Uncollected Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Friends

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One of the most prolific writers of her time Flannery O’Connor’s untimely death in 1964 at the age of thirty-nine likely robbed us of decades more of her impeccable work. However, this newly published collection of letters provides more insight and entertainment from this brilliant writer.

Arranged mostly chronologically, the letters are a sort of timeline of O’Connor’s life and a who’s who of the literary stratosphere from the early 1950s until the writer’s death. Poet Robert Lowell and novelist Walker Percy are among the correspondents as well as publishing powerhouse Robert Giroux. Throughout the book, O’Connor’s signature humor and humility—perhaps brought on by her devout faith—are centerstage. Always open to criticism and devoted to refining her craft, O’Connor writes in one letter to author and friend Caroline Gordon, “I am fixing up the front of that story. It does read very flat…I am going after it.” Aware that the notes Gordon had made on the story could only improve it, rather than defending choices that were not working, O’Connor got to the work of revision. Similarly, in a letter to friends Thomas and Louis Gossett, she makes clear her motivation for much of her work, including the novel Wise Blood, is born from her being “brought-up Catholic, not a convert.”

While the book is a brilliant deep-dive into the life and times of one of America’s most important authors, it can be a bit dry at times and, for readers unfamiliar with O’Connor’s friends, maybe a challenging road to navigate. However, for American literature fans (like me) or those who are simply ravenous for the details of this brilliant woman’s life, Good Things Out of Nazareth is a must-read.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 416 pages
Publisher Convergent Books
Publish Date 2019-10-15
ISBN 9780525575061 Buy this Book
Issue February 2020
Category Biographies & Memoirs


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