My book aims to help readers understand and appreciate O'Connor's novels and short stories. It weaves together her "place"-Milledgeville, Georgia; her purpose-to write a good story; and her preoccupations-belief, death, grace, and the devil. I explicate the influences that give depth to her fiction: her understanding and respect for the mores of the South ( including relationships between races), the books she read and marked that reveal links to her own philosophy and literary skill, and her deep religious convictions.
Today, our encounters with the "other," the different one, elicit fear and lead to violence from us, as individuals and as nations. For O'Connor, the "other" is a distorted image of God. Her stories show how this distortion calls forth God's grace, and the violence in her stories enables her characters to discover their true selves. Her unique blend of talent and convictions allows her to create stories with long extensions of meaning. In our era of "quick reads," O'Connor's fiction leads us to a more contemplative mode of reading. When we finish one of her stories, we have experienced the intellectual pleasure of a finely-wrought artifact, and we also have much to think about: belief, death, grace, and the devil. Not a bad combination, that!