Flannery O'Connor, as Brad Gooch's new biography makes clear, was one of a kind. His descriptions of Depression era Georgia remind us just how far the rural South, where she grew up, was from the American mainstream, and how rich the minefield for eccentric characters.
An only child, born to landed Irish Catholics in Savannah, Flannery O’Conner developed an early liking for domestic fowl and became famous for teaching a chicken to walk backwards. If you're a fan of her work, and I am, the only thing startling about the story is that when the chicken balked she didn't attack to Pathe newsmen come to record this feat. In a milieu where girls of her social class were expected to be well-mannered and lady-like above all, O'Connor struggled to be herself. Largely, she succeeded, but she realized her need to get away to develop what some people recognized early on as artistic genius.
FIVE STARS across the boards for the biography of Flannery O’Conner. When the book is finished the reader truly understands the subject of the book in a way he or she did not before. AND HELLO? That’s exactly what a biography should do. BONUS: her story is actually interesting. Kudos to Gooch and O'Conner too, for being born.
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