This book begins with a young man named Julian, who is being forced by his mother to accompany her on the bus to her weight loss class. Public transport has only recently been racially integrated, and for some reason she feels it is therefore now unsafe. Her son finds her attitude almost unbearably annoying. Here they are on the subject of slavery:
“There are no more slaves,” he said irritably.I found this a strangely hilarious window into a certain period in the American South, and was excited to see where O'Connor was going with Julian and his mother. Alas, I was never to find out. EVERYTHING THAT RISES MUST CONVERGE is unfortunately a collection of short stories. Here's a terrible confession for a literary blog: I can't stand short stories. I find them annoying. You get all involved,and then like twenty pages later it's over. It's like getting dumped over and over again. So I stopped after three stories. Bad blogger! Bad!
“They were better off when they were,” she said. He groaned to see that she was off on that topic. She rolled onto it every few days like a train on an open track. He knew every stop, every junction, every swamp along the way, and knew the exact point at which her conclusion would roll majestically into the station: “It's ridiculous. It's simply not realistic. They should rise, yes, but on their own side of the fence.”
“Let's skip it,” Julian said.
“The ones I feel sorry for,” she said, “are the ones that are half white. They're tragic.”
Let me raise the tone by telling you where the title of the collection, and of the first story comes from. It refers to a work by the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:
"Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge"I assume this refers to poor Julian, and find that this makes the story even more darkly comic.