Bathing in the Flames of the Fire I Built

 
 
 
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One of the singular pleasures of my life is laying up in bed with the lamp on, reading a book. 

I’ll read anywhere I’m put.  

But my first instinct when I have a book in my hand is to get horizontal— floor, bed, couch— any flat surface will do me.

I’ll even take a bench if that’s all there is, and I’ll tuck my elbow behind my ear to keep from getting one of those hard bench headaches.
 
 
 

Two or three days ago, I found myself horizontal and sideways on the bed and reading— with a stomachache.  I pulled up my knees and yanked up the sheets.  One hand absently rested above my abdomen. 

The book on the bed that day was Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners:  Occasional Prose.

I don’t know what you’ve read by O’Connor, but she’s an American writer from the South— one of the writers who got lumped in with the New Gothic Fiction crowd back in the 1940s.  

As a further insult, she got lambasted for about everything you can think of that doesn’t sound useful.

Critics took her down for being too Southern, too grotesque, too darkly comic, too religious (She was Catholic.), not religious enough, too accessible, and too inaccessible.

Oh— and mean.  The critics loved to call her mean.

Nobody was thrilled with the fact that she was a woman, writing, either, but in those days, being a woman was an ongoing insult no matter what you did.

Besides putting up with critics, O’Connor had lupus, early, hard and young. (She died at the age of 39.)

That gal really couldn’t win …. Read on, Reader!

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