Everything That Rises Must Converge

  • by Flannery O’Connor
  • Narrated by Bronson Pinchot, Karen White, Mark Bramhall, Lorna Raver
  • 9 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This collection of nine short stories by Flannery O'Connor was published posthumously in 1965. The flawed characters of each story are fully revealed in apocalyptic moments of conflict and violence that are presented with comic detachment.
The title story is a tragicomedy about social pride, racial bigotry, generational conflict, false liberalism, and filial dependence. The protagonist, Julian Chestny, is hypocritically disdainful of his mother's prejudices, but his smug selfishness is replaced with childish fear when she suffers a fatal stroke after being struck by a black woman she has insulted out of oblivious ignorance rather than malice.
Similarly, “The Comforts of Home” is about an intellectual son with an Oedipus complex. Driven by the voice of his dead father, the son accidentally kills his sentimental mother in an attempt to murder a harlot.
The other stories are “A View of the Woods”, “Parker's Back”, “The Enduring Chill”, “Greenleaf”, “The Lame Shall Enter First”, “Revelation”, and “Judgment Day”.
Flannery O'Connor was working on Everything That Rises Must Converge at the time of her death. This collection is an exquisite legacy from a genius of the American short story, in which she scrutinizes territory familiar to her readers: race, faith, and morality. The stories encompass the comic and the tragic, the beautiful and the grotesque; each carries her highly individual stamp and could have been written by no one else.


What the Critics Say

“The current volume of posthumous stories is the work of a master, a writer's writer—but a reader's too—an incomparable craftsman who wrote, let it be said, some of the finest stories in our language." (Newsweek)
“All in all they comprise the best collection of shorter fiction to have been published in America during the past twenty years.” (Book Week)
“When I read Flannery O'Connor, I do not think of Hemingway, or Katherine Anne Porter, or Sartre, but rather of someone like Sophocles. What more can you say for a writer? I write her name with honor, for all the truth and all the craft with which she shows man's fall and his dishonor.” (Thomas Merton)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Painful Grace, A Search for the Holy

Nice Catholic ladies aren't supposed to demolish you like this. O'Connor was born to be a literary knife fighter. Page after page, with zero sentimentality, O'Connor rips the grotesque out of her characters and with a bareknuckle, Christian realism absolutely dares you to turn the page. Hers is a painful grace, a search for the holy in the swamps of the Southern absurd. The brilliant thing about O'Connor is by telling her stories of divine grace among the heretics and the horrors, the reader might easily miss the divine spark in the grotesque and absurd darkness.
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- Darwin8u "I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^"

Pride goeth before the fall

Flannery O'Connor's short stories are fascinating the way looking at a household insect in a magnifying class is fascinating -- suddenly, a familiar, innocuous part of the world becomes a writhing grotesquery. Except, here, the object of examination is human self-importance, within the context of the American South circa 1960. If you've ever taken a creative writing class, you've probably read at least one of these stories. Fifty years after being written, they're still textbook examples of how to use flawed characters to reveal the absurdity of human attitudes. O'Connor sets her characters against some obstacle or antagonist, then dispassionately observes them as they drive themselves to their own ruin, usually with some final moment of epiphany.

It would be bleak stuff if it weren't so enthralling, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. There's the story of a young man who bristles at his mother's unthinking racism, yet whose own enlightenment rings false. There's a self-righteous father who neglects his disappointing son in order to "save" a delinquent teenage boy, whose feral cunning more than matches him. There's a self-satisfied middle-aged woman who can't understand why she attracts the ire of a college girl in a doctor's waiting room -- after all, she's the "right sort of person", not like that poor white trash family a few seats over.

My favorite in the collection deals with the dark comedy that results when the mother of a bookish 30-something hermit who still lives at home takes pity on and naively decides to rescue a very troubled young woman, much to her son's annoyance. Since I sometimes loan books I've finished to my own mother, I had a laugh at the thought of sharing that one. Not that I live with my mom or she often brings home tragic 19-year-old girls with nymphomaniac tendencies (alas).

There are a few other reasons O'Connor remains a staple of writing classes. She's great with language, voice, and nuanced observations of human behavior, and at using foreshadowing and meaningful imagery. She works in major social issues (e.g. race) and religious themes (e.g. suffering, epiphany), but doesn't hit the reader over the head with them.

If you enjoy stories that are dark, unsparing, and grotesque, but also humorous, compassionate, and deeply honest, consider this collection. Reading up on O'Connor's life, which came to an early end from illness, it wasn't hard for me to see how some of her own personal trials must have informed her work. The brilliance of these stories still shines, and her influence is visible in later writers who have picked up on her methods (e.g. Jonathan Franzen, Claire Messud).

The audiobook production is pretty good. Some readers are better than others (one guy's voices sound like characters from South Park!), but I think you really need to have those thick southern accents in your head to fully appreciate the writing, so consider a listen.
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- Ryan "Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-24-2010
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.