Showing posts from 2019

Peacocks, Vanity, and the Possibility of Redemption

Flannery O'Connor and her peacocks “Vain as a peacock,” we used to say, back when vanity was a vice rare enough to be remarked on. If you've never lived with a peacock, you may not realize just how vain they can be. I had a chance to become acquainted  with these creatures when I was in college in northern Illinois and occasionally stayed on the farm of my Aunt June who, like Flannery O’Connor (probably their only similarity), loved all sorts of barnyard fowl, including peafowl. June lived on the family farm she had inherited with her brother, Reynolds. He looked after the hog farming while June stayed busy breeding, raising, and selling all sorts of birds and bird eggs: chickens, ducks, and geese, as well as more exotic kinds of birds, such as peacock and rheas (a South American cousin of the better-known ostrich). I soon noticed that each of these bird species has its own native personality; you couldn't act around a goose the same way you could with a duck, for instanc

The Secret to Reading Flannery O'Connor

A very young Brad Dourif played Hazel Motes in John Huston's incomparable film adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's  Wise Blood. Veiled Mystery About forty years ago, I read the work of Flannery O’Connor for the first time, at the suggestion of my college English professor, John Glass. I was immediately hooked, although at the time I had no idea what her stories were about. Mr. Glass, who liked to set us reading challenges, had assigned one of O’Connor’s short stories, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” for class. I read it and was suitably shocked by it but also intrigued. For reasons I won’t go into here, I felt I knew the family in the story — in fact, it could have been my own family, except that none of us had ever been gunned down by escaped felons while on a family road trip. (Not yet, anyway.) If I could make sense of that senseless slaughter, maybe I could make sense of my own life. After that, I read her two novels,  Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away (I e

Authors I Call Friends: Andrew Seddon

Some books I've edited, translated, and/or designed in the last few years. I've been away from blogging for a while, and this blog has moved to an independent WordPress site and back to Google's Blogger platform since I last wrote here regularly. Despite my neglect of A Catholic Reader over the past few years, I owe a lot to this blog because it helped launch me into all the other activities that have been keeping me busy: writing, editing, and translating, as well as publishing and book design. As a way of easing back into talking about things I read, I thought I would introduce you to some of the authors I've gotten to know as friends and acquaintances (through reading, editing, or translating their stuff) through this blog. These are writers whose work I can heartily recommend to other readers. First, I must mention Andrew Seddon , with whom I first got acquainted after he found me (I think) through the (now defunct) Catholic Blogging Network and offered to se