You will recall last month's suggestion of a film, McFarland USA, for the start of our "summer list." This month, we suggest a book, Flannery O'Connor:Fiction Fired by Faith, by Angela Alaimo O'Donnell. Part of the Liturgical Press People of God series, this book "tells the remarkable story of a gifted young woman who set out from her native Georgia to develop her talents as a writer and eventually succeeded in becoming one of the most accomplished fiction writers of the twentieth century" (from the book's description).
Quoting Flannery O'Connor, O'Donnell writes, "St. Thomas Aquinas says . . . that a work of art is a good in itself, and this is a truth that the modern world has largely forgotten. We are not content to stay within our limitation and make something that is simply a good in itself. Now we want to make something that will have a utilitarian value. Yet what is good in itself glorifies God because it reflects God. The artist has his hands full and does his duty if he attends to his art."
In describing O'Connor's goal of discovering how to be a Catholic writer, O'Donnell continues, "The Catholic writer should not seek to testify to her faith in the pages of her books or to convert her reader; instead, she should try to write the best fiction that she can. This assurance freed O'Connor to devote herself to 'the good' in the form of her craft with the same fervor she devoted to the practice of her religion. She would come to realize that her faith would naturally manifest itself in her art, regardless of the story she might be telling and regardless of whether there was any explicitly Catholic content" (p. 47).
(According to Liturgical Press, People of God is a brand-new series of inspiring biographies for the general reader. Each volume offers a compelling and honest narrative of the life of an important twentieth or twenty-first century Catholic. Some living and some now deceased, each of these women and men has known challenges and weaknesses familiar to most of us but responded to them in ways that call us to our own forms of heroism. Each offers a credible and concrete witness of faith, hope, and love to people of our own day.")