Tuesday, 27 September 2011

EVERYTHING THAT RISES MUST CONVERGE by Flannery O'Connor


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.
“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.”
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!

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.

4 comments:

  1. I love the last quote. Hmmm! I don't detest short stories, I only find it hard to review. I am currently on reading the Caine Prize short story so I get what you're referring to.

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  2. I love your Caine Prize reviews! They are really interesting and as I thnk they don't get reviewed very much, a good contribution to the blogosphere x

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  3. Sounds like an interesting time to write about. I've been reading more short stories lately so may enjoy this, but I'm not sold yet :)

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  4. I do love Flannery O'Connor . . . .so if you like short stories, you might like this x

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