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by Paul Elie
The sheer originality of Flannery O'Connor's stories shows students how amplifying their surrounding world can make great fiction. Now, 50 years after her death, when she is a staple of syllabi and the very canon that previously excluded her and other women, it is most important to stress fresh approaches to her work within the classroom.
Let's review: David Shields extracts Paul Elie's quote from a larger narrative, changes the words, and purges any reference to the ideas' original source: Walker Percy. Then Gideon Lewis-Kraus quotes Shields's misquote of Elie, contradicts his misquote, and characterizes what he wrongly alleges Elie having written as a “shoddy lament.” But no citations; this is art.
The fact that there is so much of Bach’s music, and so many recordings, means that you know from the start that you are never going to hear it all, even if you live to be 100. There’s always going to be a freshly rearranged cantata, or another new recording. So as a writer you know you have to cover all the important works and let other pieces fill themselves in.
Starring semi-rural characters down on their luck in places from Illinois to the outskirts of Nashville, these eight stories contain both humor and compassion about people and an appreciation for nature that is never heavy-handed.