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Saturday, August 15, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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See ‘Flannery,’ but don’t forget to read the stories

Dan Webster

The best way to get to know writers is to read what they write. It's really that simple.

We're all curious about the artists we admire. As a kid, I wanted to know everything I could about Ernest Hemingway. As I grew older, I found out a number of things about him that I didn't like. Still, those things — his alcoholism, his belligerence, his four marriages — helped give me a better understanding of his work.

So while I don't hold the man himself in the same high regard that I did as a teenager, I still respect his work — especially his short stories.

Anyone who has ever taken a college literature survey course should be familiar with the name Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964). Born in Savannah, Ga., O'Connor is known for a body of short stories that some reviewers find dark, twisted and bizarre and are certainly unique among serious literature. One reviewer described her novel "Wise Blood" as "a work of insanity.”

You can find out more about O'Connor by watching the documentary "Flannery," which was co-directed by Marc Bosco and Elizabeth Coffman and which is available for streaming through Virtual Cinemas. The film is being made available — or shortly will be — through dozens of theaters across the country, including five in Washington.

You can also read this New York Times review of O'Connor's 2009 biography, "Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor," written by Brad Gooch. You can even read Gooch's 448-page book.

But why not just go directly to the source itself? Purchase (or borrow) a copy of "Wise Blood" or her collected stories. The real worth of a writer, after all, can be found right there in the words they have written.

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