Tag: flannery o’connor

Centenary Book Sale Day!

I look forward to it all year: the Centenary Book Bazaar is by far the best book sale in Shreveport. If you’ve only been to the library’s, you’re missing out! My general rule is $20 and one ginormous bag, but rules are made to be broken, right? I was still too sick to enjoy last year’s book sale, so I sat it out. This year, I gave myself permission to make up for the lost book deals, so I took TWO bags and my usual $20 bill, but I also took my checkbook. Always be prepared. Winter is coming. And so on.

People line up for hours to be first to get into this thing, and that’s dedication considering it’s usually 100 degrees outside at this time of the year. In fact, I followed an ambulance, lights and sirens blaring, into the parking lot. I assume someone had fainted. They offer bottles of water for $1, and I heard rumors of ice cream. It started at 4pm, and I showed up at 3:45 because while I love this book sale, I’m not willing to bake before it (and there’s the little matter of insulin in my pocket). I was dripping sweat by the time I got in, anyway.

The line didn’t seem as long this year as it had been in the past. Maybe it was exceptionally hot? What’s funny is that there are two line options: one out in the sun and one in the shade. And the sunny one is always longer! Ridiculous. I, of course, chose the shaded route. Two roads diverged in a wood, and so on.

As usual, it was packed. Rows and rows of tables lined with people wheeling around suitcases and other fun things to trip over. I just poked at people with my bag.

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I was mildly disappointed this time: they have multiple tables of paperback fiction, and one is something like “Paperback Treasures” and is usually covered in nice trade paperbacks of books I like to read. Somehow, that table was covered with mass markets this year.

I spent about half an hour nosing around and filling up one big bag plus a couple. I only go for the tables of decent contemporary fiction, “literature,” and school book lists because if it’s true, I’ll never get around to reading it. And this year, I found some gems! And a much larger pile of books that have been on my radar for a while.

What did I get, you ask? Here’s the list! (I usually link books and authors to Goodreads, but I’m far too lazy to do that with all of these, so I’m only linking within this blog. Just so you know.)

  1. A Russian Journal by Steinbeck. I’d never heard of this one, but I love its author.
  2. Adam Bede by George Eliot. It’s been on my radar for a while, and I really liked Silas Marner.
  3. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol. I’ve been meaning to read it.
  4. Officers and Gentlemen by Evelyn Waugh. Waugh is highlarious.
  5. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I tried reading a few years ago and failed, but I think I’ll try again soon.
  6. Labrynths by Jorge Luis Borges. I love Borges. I’ve read Labyrinths, but it was a borrowed copy, and I wanted to own it.
  7. Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata. Goodreads keeps telling me I’ll like it.
  8. Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev. I haven’t read Turgenev, but I’ve been meaning to.
  9. Diary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai Gogol. It was the Book Sale of Russians. There was a pile.
  10. A two-volume set of The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky. I love Crime and Punishment, and I bet I’ll love this one, too.
  11. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor. I think she’s my favorite short story writer. This was a FIND.
  12. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Another one I’ve been meaning to read.
  13. Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. Another Russian and another reading list fulfillment.
  14. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. Everyone tells me it’s good! And Cormac McCarthy has won me over to westerns.
  15. A two-volume set of Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ve never read it because I hate mysteries, but I know I should.
  16. The Children of Men by P.D. James. Another attempt and failure. I’m not sure why. It’s different than the movie, and I think I liked it as far as I got into it. That was several years ago.
  17. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I read it last year and reviewed it on this blog. I own it on Kindle, and I bought a nice hardback version for all of $3.
  18. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. If you ever read this blog, you know how much I love Hemingway. I haven’t read many of his short stories. This is also another one I own on Kindle but wanted the actual book.

And I could have sworn there was one more! I’m going by the recent history list in my cataloging software, Delicious Library. Maybe I miscounted yesterday. All told, I spent $23.50. I think I got a pretty awesome deal. The winners, of course, are the Flannery O’Connor and Hemingway collections. A nice page with a list of all of my fiction and a few other things is here. I even updated it today!

As I said: best book sale. If I ever say I’m bored, point me toward my bookshelves. Speaking of which, all of these books created quite a pile, and I had to do some pretty serious rearranging of my already limited space. I need more shelves!

Finally, a round of applause for my Very Helpful Helper, Shakespeare, who walked back and forth over my keyboard countless times just while I was writing this blog post.

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2013 Book #35: A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories

goodmanI have an embarrassing confession to make: Until I picked up this collection, I hadn’t read the oft-assigned “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” What, you ask? How did you get an English degree without having read this most ubiquitous of short stories? A simple, two parted answer: I pretended to have read it, and I’d confused it with “Good Country People,” which also appears in this collection. For clarification: the former is about “The Misfit,” who shoots up a family with a know-it-all grandmother, and the latter is about a Bible salesman who steals the artificial leg of the (grand?)daughter of another know-it-all woman. I figured the Misfit of “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” was the Bible salesman in “Good Country People.” The stories do have a lot in common. I feel a little less bad about not having read it since the two stories are, at least, somewhat similar.

Anyway. Flannery O’Connor likes proving uppity old women wrong. They’re everywhere, at least in this collection. I’ve also read Everything that Rises Must Converge (which is fantastic) and a novel, Wise Blood (which is also fantastic). I’ve written entries about both for this blog, and I’m annoyed with myself that I didn’t talk about any of the stories in that first collection. Not one.

So there are “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and “Good Country People.” I was assigned both in college, and they’re both good. “The River” is also fantastic, about a traveling preacher’s effect on a young boy. And “The Displaced Person,” about a community’s treatment of a Polish immigrant and his family. “A Circle in the Fire” is another favorite, about a troop of boys who show up on a farm and cause trouble. They’re all good. I blazed through this collection, not wanting to put it down. Oh so good.

I’d compare it to Everything that Rises Must Converge, but it’s been a while, and I didn’t say hardly anything about it in my “review.” Meh.

I arrived late to the O’Connor game, but she’s quickly become one of my favorite authors. Until fairly recently, I generally shied away from southern lit, but I’ve changed my mind about it for the most part, mostly due to O’Connor and Faulkner. So. Great collection. Amazing collection. Totally worth reading.

2011 Book #45: Wise Blood

I have almost nothing to say about Wise Blood, though I enjoyed it immensely. Fresh off 1Q84, I wanted something a bit shorter and not on the Kindle. I was limited to my own library since it was Black Friday, and I wasn’t in the mood to change out of my pajamas. After reading Everything that Rises Must Converge and finally deciding that I love Flannery O’Connor, I picked up Wise Blood at the Centenary book sale, and it sat on my shelf for a few months.

Then, on Black Friday, I sat down and read the whole thing.

Which is very rare for me. I’m pretty sure that the only time I’ve read a whole novel in one sitting was Cormac McCarthy‘s Child of God, one afternoon at Barnes and Noble. Though I really enjoyed it, that novel is a blur since I didn’t take time to digest it in part.

Same goes for Wise Blood, sadly. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Luckily, Palmer and I were both off of work that day, and we weren’t going anywhere until late afternoon. He caught up on TV shows while I holed myself up in the library for Serious Reading Time. Palmer even came in for a while and napped with the kitties. It was a good day.

Except, of course, that I remember almost nothing about this novel. O’Connor likes to explore religion, and that’s a big part of what Wise Blood is about. It felt like an extended short story. It’s also O’Connor’s first novel (of which I think there are only two), and it whet my appetite to read the rest of her work. I’ll have to reread this one in the near future, in bits and pieces, so maybe I can talk about the plot a little.

2011 Book #40: The Devil All the Time

The-Devil-All-The-Time_211.jpegI really need to be better about posting quickly after I finish a novel. Unless it falls into the Best Novel Ever category, I forget what I wanted to say before I write anything down. Once I hit this year’s quota, I might take a break from the writing part. Or not. We’ll see.

I decided to read The Devil All the Time because it sounded similar to stories and novels by Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy, at least in substance. I’m generally pretty bad at reading pop fiction, a category into which this novel definitely fits, though I didn’t have a hard time getting through this one. I think it’s a story that could easily have come from either O’Connor or McCarthy – and it’s certainly as gruesome.

The Devil All the Time is about various damaged people in terrible situations trying to survive. One is a young boy whose mother is dying of cancer. His father wants his mother to live so badly that he builds an alter in the woods behind his house and sacrifices animals (and one person), hanging them onto homemade crosses. Then there’s the couple who drives across the country picking up young male hitchhikers, raping and killing them. The storylines eventually converge.

I enjoyed this novel more than I thought I would. It’s better-written than I’d expect it to be, though I’d never heard of Donald Ray Pollock before, so I guess I didn’t know what to expect. The plot is well thought-out, and the style is good. Pollock wrote another novel that, I think, is somehow related to this one, called Knockemstiff (the name of a town that reminds me of a certain author who wrote a series of novels set in another town with a stupid name, though Knockemstiff really exists), and I think I might be interested enough to read it. We shall see.

2011 Book #36: Everything that Rises Must Converge

9780374504649.jpegIt took me a long time to read Everything that Rises Must Converge, but that’s not because I didn’t like it. Now that I have a job, I’ve been reading a lot less. I get up, go to work, come home, and watch bad TV. I’ve only been reading during my (very short) break at work and just before I go to bed. I’m glad I’ve gotten ahead in my quota. Also, it’s too damn hot around here to read. The high today was 109. I know I said last winter that I’d rather it be 100 degrees outside than fifty, but 109 is just ridiculous. I’m working with window units here.

Anyway. The only Flannery O’Connor I remember reading before this was ye olde high school and college favorite, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” which, I guess, I liked well enough. I’ve never been one for southern lit in general, though I’ve always loved A Confederacy of Dunces, and I’ve grown to like Faulkner a lot. I enjoyed Tom Sawyer, though I don’t have any interest in other Twain.

But O’Connor! She’s fantastic! I have a new favorite short story writer. I’m not sure which of these short stories I like best: they’re all really, really good, and they deserve a second (and third!) reading. I’m sitting here staring at the list of stories, trying to single one out, but I really can’t, so I won’t.

Everything that Rises Must Converge is O’Connor’s last collection. She was still working on it when she died. She only published one other collection, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, so I might pick that up at the liberry. Where I work.

Speaking of the liberry, I’ve been thinking about writing a series of book reviews for their blog. This post would not be a good example of a review, though I’ve been considering looking into gearing my entries more toward the formal. We’ll see if I can doff my laziness for a bit.

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