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Friday, March 9, 2007

Blessed Assurance

A Moral Tale
by Allan Gurganus

You've got to hand it to this guy: he can do titles. Naming this story after a Fanny J. Crosby hymn is a stroke of something close to genius. And a book called Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, well...

Read. Read, read, read.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Everything that rises must converge

What can I say about Flannery O'Connor? Known for one novel (Wise Blood) and some of the most admired short stories certainly of twentieth-century America, she was a Southerner who almost never left home, except for a brief stint in New York as, of all things, an advertising copywriter.

She was Roman Catholic and a fierce moral sensibility infuses her work, but it can't be called "religious" or even hopeful.

Her stories are terribly bleak, yet a descriptive line can cut so sharply I find myself laughing out loud.

She had autoimmune disease and died at the age of thirty-nine.

She's quotable as hell, but I will limit myself to one: "What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can't believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God."

- Habit of Being

Much more at

Reading: The Workshop: Seven Decades of the Iowa Writers' Workshop
The Gospel of Luke