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Flannery Flummery

"[I]f I were not a Catholic, I would have no reason to write, no reason to see, no reason to feel horrified or even to enjoy anything . . . I feel myself that being a Catholic has saved me a couple of thousand years in learning to write."

        —Flannery O'Connor

Professor Gordon provokes—she certainly does not evoke—memories of days in Milledgeville, Georgia, four decades ago and more, when Flannery O'Connor was a presence in that notable town, formerly the capital of the Peach State. Though Dr. Gordon is a professor of English in the same town, at the college from which O'Connor was graduated, and though she is the editor of the Flannery O'Connor Bulletin, she does not write, it seems, "from" that place. Indeed, she seems to be contemptuous of it. She knows better than Milledgeville did or does, and also—more strikingly—better than Flannery O'Connor herself. Her volume, decades in the making, is remarkably ambivalent in relation to its subject. About that equivocation, I will have more to say.

But first, I think, the principle of full disclosure requires me to acknowledge that I was once associated with the Flannery O'Connor Bulletin myself. Indeed, the Flannery O'Connor Bulletin was my idea, though it was never my doing. Have the founder...

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