By Tom Deignan
A new documentary about the short life and powerful work of Irish American literary giant Flannery O’Connor has just been released and is available for streaming. Entitled “Flannery: The Storied Life of the Writer from Georgia,” the 97-minute film premiered on PBS on March 23. Directed by Mark Bosco and Elizabeth Coffman, the film comes at a fascinating time. O’Connor’s deeply Catholic faith, isolated life, and southern settings made her stories challenging, and downright strange. All the more unlikely, then, that she would become one of the most celebrated writers in recent American literary history.
“O’Connor is now as canonical as (William) Faulkner and (Eudora) Welty,” a recent long New Yorker article noted. “More than a great writer, she’s a cultural figure: a funny lady in a straw hat, puttering among peacocks, on crutches … (Her) farmhouse is open for tours; her visage is on a stamp. A recent book of previously unpublished correspondence, “Good Things Out of Nazareth” (Convergent), and (the new) documentary … suggest a completed arc, situating her at the literary center where she might have been all along.”
But writer Paul Elie then goes on to note that O’Connor’s southern upbringing, and her writings about race, have led to a re-examination of O’Connor’s work. Either way, the new documentary is the latest chapter in this fascinating writer’s life, and features original interviews with Mary Karr, Hilton Als, Alice Walker, Tobias Wolff, Tommy Lee Jones, Alice McDermott, and others, alongside archival interviews of friends and family, and a brilliant segment about Irish American Hollywood legend John Huston’s efforts to turn O’Connor’s novel Wise Blood into a film.
Stream “Flannery:” The Storied Life of the Writer from Georgia at flanneryfilm.com.♦
Learn about Flannery O’Connor’s Irish roots.