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The landscape of American literature was fundamentally changed when Flannery O'Connor stepped onto the scene with her first published book, Wise Blood, in 1952. Her fierce, sometimes comic novels and stories reflected the darkly funny, vibrant, and theologically sophisticated woman who wrote them. Brad Gooch brings to life O'Connor's significant friendships--with Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Hardwick, Walker Percy, and James Dickey among others--and her deeply felt convictions, as expressed in her communications with Thomas Merton, Elizabeth Bishop, and Betty Hester. Hester was famously known as "A" in O'Connor's collected letters, The Habit of Being, and a large cache of correspondence to her from O'Connor was made available to scholars, including Brad Gooch, in 2006. O'Connor's capacity to live fully--despite the chronic disease that eventually confined her to her mother's farm in Georgia--is illuminated in this engaging and authoritative biography.
About the Author
Brad Gooch is the author of the acclaimed biography of Frank O'Hara, City Poet, as well as other nonfiction and three novels. The recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities and Guggenheim fellowships, he earned his Ph.D. at
"Gooch comfortably traces [Flannery O'Connor's] fiction to its real-life roots in a meticulous yet seemingly effortless writing style, resulting in the definitive biography as well as providing the impetus for general readers to return to O'Connor's timeless fiction."—Booklist (starred review)
"Rapt, authoritative...What makes Flannery so valuable is the degree of intimacy with which it captures O'Connor's sensibility."
"Gooch's biography is a marvel of concision but skimps on nothing.... If O'Connor's writing glows with edged comic genius, biographer Gooch is himself no slouch. If a library is to have only one book on Flannery O'Connor, this should be it. Highly recommended."—Library Journal
"Gooch is brilliant on [O'Connor's] fiction, passionate and smart, able to contextualize both the individual pieces and the scope of the career."—David Ulin, Los Angeles Times
"Excellent...Mr. Gooch's is patient and tactful with the publicity-shy and dauntingly complex O'Connor. His book is a welcome introduction to the quiet, narrow life of a fiercely funny and unnervingly powerful writer."—Adam Begley, The New York Observer
"The story Gooch tells is amply shaded and evocatively detailed...It is a poignant, inspiring story of one brave, dedicated, brilliant writer."—Floyd Skloot, The Boston Globe
"It's incredible that this is the first biography of the great Southern writer Flannery O'Connor.... As Brad Gooch shows, her life was as dark and rich and dense with meaning as her fiction is."—Time
"Impressive. . . Gooch's account is meticulous."—The New Yorker
"This is one of those rare biographies that makes the writer almost as fascinating as what she wrote."—Charles Matthews, The Houston Chronicle
"In his engaging, sympathetic, and yet intellectually scrupulous biography of O'Connor, Brad Gooch provides the ideal biographical commentary."—Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books