Bite-sized book review: A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano

September 20

A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano is the exquisitely written, emotionally taut, and compelling story of four people doing their best to navigate their lives in a small Southern town. That one of these people is a fascinating and fictionalized version of Flannery O’Connor only adds to the complicated tapestry Napolitano weaves here, braiding the sins humans can commit out of boredom with the pain of a physical disease and the events of a tragic afternoon.

Napolitano’s gift is getting inside the heart of her characters, so that readers are rooting for every one of them, so that it’s possible – even when they have done terrible, selfish things – to forgive them their frailty. Her believable, research-based portrait of Flannery, channeled through the menagerie of peacocks that roam the O’Connor estate, screaming in the night and eating each flower as it blooms, heightens the sense that there is redemption to be found, to be sure, but only after we realize we all a little flawed, and a little doomed.

(If, like me, this book sends you on a mad quest for nonfiction about FC, I urge you to consider Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor by Brad Gooch.)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Camille September 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm

I love that I felt compelled to google writing quotes from Flannery O’Connor yesterday morning after eyeing ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’ sitting at the top of my 100-great-books pile. We got a PSYCHIC CONNECTION, BABY. :}

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Becky (Princess Mikkimoto) February 8, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Oh how I loved this book so. Now I’m scouring your blog for other good recs.

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