Critical Insights: Short Fiction of Flannery O'Connor Review

"Critical Insights: Short Fiction of Flannery O’Connor, edited by Robert C. Evans, represents a fresh take on O’Connor’s stories both familiar and unknown, a compelling and significant addition to the body of scholarship around the author’s work. Engaging with literary criticism such as this may be most commonly perceived as something reserved only for the serious student, but the accessibility of the essays contained within this volume challenges that perception, proving that literary scholarship possesses value beyond merely the academic realm; particularly with regards to a writer such as O’Connor, whose original conception of American Christianity continues to possess such relevance to this day, deeper study into the truths and potential discoveries via scholarship such as this holds value for even a casually intrigued reader.In what ought to prove a valuable resource for those interested in the contemporary conversation around the short fiction writings of this worthy icon of Southern Gothic literature, Critical Insights: Short Fiction of Flannery O’Connor offers a wide breadth of perspectives in addition to a substantive depth of ideas and conversation. Students of O’Connor at any level ought to welcome this addition to the collection of ideas around the life and works of this great American writer."
-Micah Winters, Taylor University

“Proficient and profound in both novels and short stories, Flannery O’Connor created works that have attracted diverse and abundant analyses. This volume in the Critical Insights series focuses on the young writer’s short stories, which were mainly gathered into two collections published a decade apart. Flannery O’Connor came of age during the burgeoning post-World War II era. The opening essay in the brief Career, Life and Influence section of this volume shares an illuminating look at the influence of the domestic aftermath of the war upon her stories. This essay is followed by a brief biographical sketch of the writer, who died at the age of 29 due to complications from lupus. The following four essays, making up the Critical Context section, work to envelop readers’ understanding of her stories in the social and political climate of the time, both in regards to her product and the critical response to it. Three of the essays are contributed by this volume’s editor, Robert C. Evans, who writes of O’Connor’s conservative leanings, provides a meticulous survey of the earliest O’Connor criticism, and, analyzes the particular way in which O’Connor presents her stories. The fourth essay in the section offers an interesting comparison between O’Connor’s work and that of African American writer Alice Walker. The Critical Readings section offers essays which look at O’Connor’s work in a generally chronological way. “Collards and Consumption in a ‘Stroke of Good Fortune’” by David A. Davis relates the placement of food in this early story to broader gender issues of the time. Themes of Christian faith are analyzed through several essays (and through much of O’Connor’s work). And Colleen Warren discusses issues of race and more in her piece “Black Doubling in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Why Do the Heathen Rage?’”. A helpful Resources section includes a chronology of the writer’s life, a listing of her published works, and a bibliography. An index rounds out the work.” —ARBA Staff Reviewer