I discovered Flannery O’Connor my junior year of college when I took Seminar of American Women Writers, which turned out to be one of my all-time favorite classes. No one captures the South or paints characters in exactly the same way O’Connor does. I still laugh out load nearly every time the grandmother and June Star open their mouths in “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” I feel a little ashamed of myself for being amused at the Bible salesman in “Good Country People.” I’m still stunned at the end of “Everything that Rises Must Converge” when, well, I won’t ruin the end for you. Just go read it if you haven’t already.
I think many writers spend their whole careers extracting memories and small bits of information from their lives, and in particular, their childhoods. So it was simply a must that I visit the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home on Lafayette Square in Savannah.
The tour includes two of the four floors of the house at 207 E. Charlton St. where O’Connor and her parents lived from 1925 to 1938. Most of the furniture was actually in the house while the O’Connors lived there. In the double parlor is the radio where O’Connor and her friends would gather on Saturday mornings to hear a radio show called, “Let’s Pretend.” I was not surprised to learn that she was such an imaginative child.
O’Connor really came to life for me while I walked through the house where she lived, played, and first began to create her own stories.
On the way back from Savannah, I began reading Brad Gooch’s new biography of O’Connor’s life, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor. So far, it’s excellent.