25 December 2014

A Prayer Journal, by Flannery O'Connor

This is completely amazing. Funny, bizarre, and profound, Flannery O'Connor's prayer journal is more like a series of letters to God. Written while she was working on Wise Blood (which I have not read, but cannot wait to), these anguished missives somewhat paradoxically describe her efforts to be more spiritual. Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to ... I do not know you God because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside. O'Connor vacillates between asking God for things she wants, and asking God to help her be more selfless and not want things so much. Occasionally this results in absolutely hilarious formulations such as: Please give me the necessary grace, oh Lord, and please don't let it be as hard to get as Kafka made it. And other times it verges on completely bizarre, as in one of my favorite moments: at present I am a cheese, make me a mystic, immediately. But throughout, it is intimate, complex, and completely spell-binding. Farrar Straus and Giroux did a lovely job with this edition -- although the introduction is meh (it has a borderline unseemly fascinating with O'Connor's death), the simple artwork on a pristine white cover feels very appropriate, and the inclusion of a facsimile of the entire original notebook is genius. If I had read this a week ago, I'd have been handing it out for Christmas like it was Halloween candy. Go get a copy, stat!

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