Flannery’s voice

In the introduction to Flannery O’Connor’s Complete Stories her editor Robert Giroux writes of her arrival at the University of Iowa: “At their first meeting in his office, in 1946, Mr. Engle recalls, he was unable to understand a word of Flannery’s native Georgian tongue: ‘Embarrassed, I asked her to write down what she had just said on a pad.'” This sort of thing happened to her quite a bit in Northern literary circles. Which made it all the more amazing when I heard a recording of Flannery’s voice for the first time the other day, two and a half minutes into this interview with her biographer Brad Gooch. Her dialect, though strong, is completely understandable. I often assume that our saturation with recording technology must have a homogenizing effect on our speech, making us all talk the same. It may do that, but it also apparently makes us more used to people who talk different. (Here, btw, are lengthier mp3s of the same two-part speech: “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Literature,” and a reading of her story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find“.)

Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor author Brad Gooch, interviewed by Michael Silverblatt on KCRW’s Bookworm. Additional links from Black Market Kidneys

Originally published at culture-making.com.

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