Flannery by Brad Gooch
A Life of O'Connor

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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.


"Flannery O'Connor, one of the best American writers of short fiction, has found her ideal biographer in Brad Gooch. With elegance and fairness, Gooch deals with the sensitive areas of race and religion in O'Connor's life. He also takes us back to those heady days after the war when O'Connor studied creative writing at Iowa. There is much that is new in this book, but, more important, everything is presented in a strong, clear light." --Edmund White

"This splendid biography gives us no saint or martyr but the story of a gifted and complicated woman, bent on making the best of the difficult hand fate has dealt her, whether it is with grit and humor or with an abiding desire to make palpable to readers the terrible mystery of God's grace." --Frances Kiernan, author of Seeing Mary Plain: A Life of Mary McCarthy

"A good biographer is hard to find. Brad Gooch is not merely good-he is extraordinary. Blessed with the eye and ear of a novelist, he has composed the life that admirers of the fierce and hilarious Georgia genius have long been hoping for." -- Joel Conarroe, President Emeritus, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation

About Brad Gooch

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Brad Gooch is the author of the acclaimed biography of Frank O'Hara, City Poet, as well as the novels The Golden Age of Promiscuity and Scary Kisses. His poems, stories, and articles have appeared in The Nation, The Paris Review, Vanity Fair, Out magazine, as well as many others. He lives in New York City.
Published January 20, 2009 by Little, Brown and Company. 464 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Flannery

Kirkus Reviews

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Taut biography of the iconic Southern short-story writer and novelist.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Flannery: A Life of Flannery ...

The New York Times

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"What appears on the front cover of your March 1 issue is not a book review of Brad Gooch’s new biography of Flannery O’Connor."

Mar 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Flannery: A Life of Flannery ...

The New York Times

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Witty, obsessed and almost inhumanly brave, Flannery O’Connor was peculiar, her work even more so. But Brad Gooch’s biography strives to make it all quite normal — under the circumstances, of course.

Mar 01 2009 | Read Full Review of Flannery: A Life of Flannery ...


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In its painstaking honesty, Brad Gooch's Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor is both a gift and a curse to O'Connor's fans, displaying as it does the racial insensitivity and other flaws of one of America's greatest short-story writers.

Mar 31 2009 | Read Full Review of Flannery: A Life of Flannery ...

The New York Review of Books

In the 1950s, when Flannery O’Connor first began to publish such idiosyncratic and mordantly comic fiction as Wise Blood and the story collection A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955), the seemingly reclusive young writer from Milledgeville, Georgia—in Brad Gooch’s description a “sleepy community at ...

Apr 09 2009 | Read Full Review of Flannery: A Life of Flannery ...

Daily Camera

Gooch carefully details how despite her increasingly weakened condition from lupus, O'Connor continued to write until her death, completing a second novel, publishing two collections of stories and becoming a prolific writer of letters.

Mar 06 2009 | Read Full Review of Flannery: A Life of Flannery ...

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