I am Scared of Flannery O’Connor

She is a short lady with curly and quite weird hair-style. In one of her photos, she is standing in the middle of a huge garden. She is looking at something far away while holding her hands tied back. Her face and body remind of childhood fear while sneaking inside her house for the first time, to discover the dark secret hidden behind her solitude.

She is a short lady, standing right in the center of the wide and empty land of the south. She creates a kind of dreadful anxiety, and at the same time, beauty. She is scary, without evoking any familiar fearful element, and that makes her even scarier.

They call her style of writing “Southern Gothic”, a mixed-up structure drowned in religious beliefs and superstitions and family devastation. All leading the story to an unbearable ending. It is unbelievable how she can penetrate her character’s inner conflict in the short story medium, and release the control of the story within a scene.
She reminds me of my fantasies regarding the American south. A place you do not want to end up at. A zone full of roaming ghosts and abandoned people to die in their dirt. O’Connor can rise these lost souls and present them in her prose. She sees the south as a dead mysterious location, far away from the accepted modernism, still struggling between religious and inherited thought and nonreturnable new-world. An area that is mocked with components of the modern world. A place which is gathering wrath, waiting for a moment to discharge.

In most of her works, we are facing unexpected and extremely unnecessary wrath, coming from a strange and complicated character. People with normal faces and acts, living daily and usual life, suddenly turn into such frightening monsters. And the sad point is, they are highly believable and convincing while reading. Their abrupt behave reform is rather expectable for the in the deep surface of readers mind, because they’re both humans.

O’Connor’s prose is clean, based on comprehensive descriptions and dialogues. She writes like Faulkner but more darkly and scarily. While reading her stories, we are facing a typical family, with their boring and wasted life in the south. But as the story goes on, the first signs of the final surprise begin to shine. With the entrance of a new character, or even going to a picnic around the house. O’Connor’s characters are living in the context of fear, their unhappy life, does not seems to have another option. They search for religious supervision to create meaning for their lives and resist the unstoppable stream of modern life.

After all, I am still scared of this short lady. Her southern mind is not something you would want to mess up with. I can think of her dead silent afternoons in those big houses, and wide front gardens. The Ameican south, plus a short and curly hair lady, sitting on her noisy coach and thinking, creates this fearful prose.

A young writer from Iran. (www.danialamari.com)