Flannery O’Connor and short stories generally

I’ve been making my way through Image Journal’s Top 100 book list. “The works selected had to manifest a genuine engagement with the Judeo-Christian heritage of faith, rather than merely use religion as background or subject matter,” the site states in explanation.


It’s a long list, and some of the books are heavy tomes. I selected The Complete Stories at the library.

This is the first book from the Image Journal list that I haven’t finished.

While the hefty volume sat on the arm of the couch, untouched for days, I was thinking about the short story genre. I’m not sure I really like reading short stories. I did enjoy O. Henry short stories for a relatively brief while in high school, but that was a long time ago. I think this occurred to me since I wasn’t returning to the book even though I was quite aware that I enjoyed the writing. O’Connor was a Southern writer, and I enjoyed the inherent South in the stories I read.

Dawn, at Write Well Me, stated my feelings about short stories pretty well when she was explaining why she wasn’t finishing a collection. She said: “I’ve just gotten used to one author’s style (and story, characters, setting — the whole reason why I usually stay away from short stories — I want to invest more, and short stories cut that off abruptly), and now I have to go on to another’s?”

Sure, she’s talking about a collection of stories by a collection of writers, but even with stories all by the same author, if the characters don’t overlap, it just ends too soon.

I think perhaps another reason I failed to complete reading this book is that it’s the complete works. To my knowledge, I’d never read any O’Connor work before. Probably the Complete Stories is intended for pre-existing fans of the author. I started at the beginning, and I may not have made it to some of her best (and most well-known) pieces. But how else is one supposed to read a text? I always start at the beginning.

Aside: O’Connor attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, which is the name of the MFA in creative writing at Iowa University. This is somewhat relevant to my exploration of creative writing MFA programs.


2 responses to “Flannery O’Connor and short stories generally

  1. Lily, let’s just boycott short stories entirely. 🙂 Except for Miracle and Other Short Stories by Connie Willis. Those are amazing! I almost don’t mind that they end too quickly. 🙂

  2. I still find it weird that I feel this way about short stories. I don’t fully understand what’s causing the feeling.

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