Friday, May 27, 2005

"A Late Encounter with the Enemy" by Flannery O'Connor

For quite a few decades in American history, it was custom to trot out surviving Civil War veterans every Memorial Day or Fourth of July or Armistice Day, whether or not the patriotism was Yankee or Confederate. Fortunately, they were doing this up through Flannery O'Connor's day, so she could write this typically hilarious, typically pathos-drenched story of a Southern "general" who, saber in hand, combats the enemy--whether it be within his own family or out there in the cruel, sensationalistic modern world. Read by Matt Kibbee.

A history of Flannery O'Connor should concentrate not on the tragic, despite her short life, but on triumph--her stories which are like no one else's and yet which everyone imitates even today, and her two novels, which still seem as fresh and strange as the days they fell from her typewriter. We're supposed to, of course, concentrate on her religious themes and Diane Arbus-like use of the grotesque, but it is really her wry, measured, always highly poised and polished voice that brings her characters and situations to life. So think not of her crippled by disease and love-loss, but happy amongst her peacocks in Georgia and winking at the so-so serious literary world.

Soon to be teaching English in Vietnam, newly minted summa cum laude Tufts University graduate Matt Kibbee is a faithful listener we are now proud to have among our contributors. He has also recently completed two novels--his own and War and Peace, quite an accomplishment no matter how you look at it. He comes to us from the lovely gorges and valleys of New York State.

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