Monday, August 13, 2007
Writing in a post MFA world
Didn't have time this week to do a full re-reading of Flannery O'Connor this week. Just returned to some old favorites. I hadn't realized how much I remembered her stories, and it was pleasurable to return to them. I find it hard to read writers like O'Connor, usually short story writers, who want you to NOT academicize or intellectualize their stories and just try to spin a good yarn. I feel like they put so many road blocks in their writing to prevent just what I'm trained to do. I always feel like I'm breaking their hearts. Forgive me, Flan. But with her, it was always complicated by the devout Catholic thing anyway, so whatevskis.
O'Connor claims she didn't read people like Faulkner or Joyce until she left Georgia and went to the Iowa's Writers Workshop. She's one of the most epiphantic American short-story writers I know, so its surprising that Dubliners came to her so late (or so she claims...she's a tricky wily one, that O'Connor) And unlike Dubliners' epiphanies, the ones for an O'Connor character are usually completely ahistorical, a dropping away of all past and future for the graceful moment usually connected to some sort of personal death, be in physical or spiritual. Death haunts the edges of Dubliners, but death is wham smack bam in your face in an O'Connor story. She's also so fucking good a dialogue and dialect. Puts Faulkner to shame.
Anyways, my real point is I read half/skimmed a little bit of an article about O'Connor in relation to the rise of the MFA in America in a New Criticism world and how this really affected how she wrote and the fabric of her stories. And I can see this being true. They have kind of that MFA quality, ya know? (I worked for a literary agent and I was trained to distrust the MFA writers submissions we got because "they write the same anyway. too stylized, we don't want it") Any other writers you all are reading that went to MFA programs or something similar? How should we talk about this and does it matter?