Cranks My Tractor

Published: Friday, July 5, 2013 at 08:48 AM.

A good friend is always advising me to read Flannery O’Connor. I never tell him, but I already do. I’m from the South; I’m supposed to read Flannery O’Connor. However, I sometimes read her same stories over and over again.

“A Good Man is Hard to Find” is my favorite. It is violent and strange, but still so funny. I’ve read it many times simply looking for something new to think about.

Her short stories are the subject of many books whose authors try to interpret what Flannery O’Connor wanted to convey. Honestly, I think this is an important beauty of her work – it can be interpreted in so many ways.

In the middle of the outrageous, often disturbing tales, I find a wonderful sense of southern bespectacled woman humor. Flannery makes me smile, laugh and scratch my head. “Spending time with her” is something that I enjoy.

The other day while sitting in the back of my college classroom reading one of Flannery’s stories, my right eye started watering, throbbing and feeling like it was going to fall out of my head. My nose was dripping, then running like a sieve. My students were taking a test, so I went to the restroom to get something to wipe my eye and nose.

Coming back into the classroom, I turned on the oscillating fan in the back of the room and sat down to continue reading Flannery’s “Revelation.” Again, I do not find sadness in her stories; I find Flannery’s big smile, bookish glasses and sharp southern Catholic wit.

I had gotten to the part in the story where a lady (Mrs. Turpin) sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office gets hit in the head by a book thrown by a young lady named “Mary Grace.” Perhaps one of my students had hit me, without me realizing it. That is exactly what it felt like. We have a pretty big textbook and my right eye felt as though someone had hit me, hurling it from somewhere in the front of the room.

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