Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
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June 1, 2009 |
I read that Flannery O'Connor gave a reading at the University of Minnesota in the fall of 1960. Were you a student then, and if so, did you hear her? Also, where would you place her in the pantheon of American authors?
I enrolled at the U of M in the fall of 1960 and so when Miss O'Connor (already a rising star in American letters) came to campus to read, I was a confused freshman, working 20 hours a week in the parking lots, taking Mrs. Forbes's Latin Reading class and Composition: The Essay with Richard Cody and American Government from Asher Christiansen and a freshman Humanities course with Joseph Kwiat, and I did not attend the reading. I'll bet that Richard Foster did, who taught the American Short Story course that I took later, which was where I first encountered Flannery O'Connor. She was, and is, an amazement. A great Christian humorist. Most of the stuff I've read about her tries to make her into a theologian, or a saint, but she was funny as can be, dark Irish funny. She is for sure in the pantheon. I don't know where. She is utterly herself, no doubt about that, and you can do a blind comparison of a hundred texts and you'll pick out Flannery O'Connor every time. I wish somebody would make a one-woman show out of her stories. It would be huge, if they could only get her voice right and squeeze her into a couple hours. Maybe I'll try that when I retire from radio.