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Flannery O'Connor was a master of short fiction. Her stories can tear your heart out or send a chill down your spine (do not read "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" before taking a road trip). When this complete collection of her short stories was published posthumously in 1971, it received the National Book Award.
Literary critics sat up and took notice when O'Connor's first novel was published. Wise Blood, the story of a spiritually empty veteran, showcased the skills for which O'Connor would become famous. It is a classic of Southern Gothic literature.
O'Connor described herself as "a novelist with Christian concerns" and said that her stories were all written "in relation to the redemption of Christ."_CITATION30_ Her second novel about an unwilling prophet dealt explicitly with religious themes. The title comes from a verse in Matthew 11-12: "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away."
"There won't be any biographies of me," Flannery O'Connor once said, since "lives spent between the house and the chicken yard do not make exciting copy."_CITATION31_ Though Flannery O'Connor has a large, nearly cult-like following among fans of her fiction and students of Southern literature, surprisingly few authoritative biographies have been written about her. Literature professor Brad Gooch's biography is by far the most thorough and worth reading.
Though lupus kept O'Connor largely confined to her farm in Milledgeville, she kept engaged with the world through constant letter writing. O'Connor's letters are a fascinating window into her unusual life and brilliant intellect. Her good friend Sally Fitzgerald edited this anthology of her correspondence after her death.