Tag Archive: flannery o’connor

NO LAUGHING MATTER by Anthony Cronin (First published by Grafton Books, 1989)

984085There are certain novels, like Robert Musil’s ‘The Man Without Qualities’, that I find too daunting to even attempt and others, such as Malcolm Lowry’s ‘Under The Volcano’ that I have tried but failed to complete.

‘At Swim-Two-Birds’ by Flann O’Brien was, until this year, gathering dust in my unfinished pile. I have Anthony Cronin’s candid and informative biography of O’Brien to thank for finally completing this short, comic but notoriously challenging novel.

Cronin skillfully puts the work into a literary and historical context while bluntly presenting the man behind it as a sad character. Continue reading


A good God is hard to find

A PRAYER JOURNAL by Flannery O’Connor (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2013)

flanneryMy favorite joke about praying is by the surreal American comic Emo Philips (although it’s also been attributed to Al Pacino) and goes: “I asked God for a bike but I realized it doesn’t work that way, so I stole a bike and prayed for forgiveness”.

I think the Southern Gothic novelist Flannery O’Connor would have appreciated this witticism. She was a staunch Catholic but she also had an eagle eye for life’s absurdities.

As an atheist I am biased, but surely even believers can recognise that praying ought to consist of more that than reeling off a wish list to some kind of celestial Santa.  Continue reading

Cover to Imaginary Walls Collapse

Y’all Is Fantasy Island is not a name that rolls off the tongue easily and when this Indie band from Falkirk, Scotland split in 2010 few grieved and  many, myself included, didn’t even know they existed.

I came across them while reviewing the excellent new album by Adam Stafford who was the band’s lead singer and driving force.

Stafford has his own record label Wise Blood Industries (which I like to think was named after Flannery O’Connor’s sublime novel) and if you go to the label website you will find a link to a zipped file containing the complete works of Y’all Is Fantasy Island –  55 songs and 5 albums.

The cynic in me thought that if he was now giving all these away tracks they must have been crap so I was, to coin an overused phrase, blown away by how good they are/were. An album called No Ceremony is particularly impressive.

Sure, it is derivative (what isn’t?) but they have processed their influences in a way that sounds pretty dynamic to my ears. You can tell they had fully absorbed their albums of gothic alt.country like Songs:Ohio and Will Oldham’s various incarnations of Palace together with a healthy diet of Grunge. It will cost you nothing to take a listen for yourself.

And while you’re about it you really must near the aforementioned Adam Stafford solo album called Imaginary Walls Collapse and is out now on Song, By Toad Records. Continue reading

Had she not been struck down by lupus at the woefully early age of 39, Flannery O’Connor would be celebrating her 88th birthday today.

Wise Blood is one of my all time favourite novels and I read it thinking it was a religious satire so was shocked to find that O’Connor lived and died a devout Catholic.

She was, by all accounts, a real eccentric and her skewed view of religion and the world around her comes through in her writing.

Although I am not a Catholic, or a believer for that matter, I can still appreciate the wit and wisdom of her work. I think it’s her compassion for the freaks of the world, of which she was probably one, which I value most.

Her ear for dialogue and compassion for the frailty of human beings also makes her all too slim body of work unique.

On my Bucket List is a literary tour of the USA and one of the stop off points would be her childhood home in Savannah, Georgia. The video tour at least allows me to see what I’m missing from the comfort of my study:

According to Wikipedia, Colorado has an above average proportion of citizens who claim no religion – David Eugene Edwards is not among them.

Born in the city of Eaglewood in 1968, he makes no secret of the fact that he is a committed Christian who literally believes every word of the Bible.  He spent many of his formative years accompanying his grandfather, a Nazarene preacher, as he travelled through small towns to spread the word of the gospel.

In touring as leader of Alt.Country band 16 Horsepower, and now of  Wovenhand,  Edwards is a type of modern-day roving preacher-man delivering his sermons in the form of mostly very bleak songs.

He leaves the listener  in no doubt  that the wages of sin signify death and the prospect of eternal life in Christ doesn’t seem to provide much in the way of consolation or joy. Continue reading

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