Review by Kirkus Book Review
Richly feelingful, superbly witty kitchen chat with a star-crossed writer of the first magnitude. In 1964, when O'Connor died of disseminated lupus at 39, she left behind two published novels and two volumes of short stories, a body of writing that since has been increased by her collected occasional prose, book reviews, letters--and now a final volume of 188 letters, her correspondence with fellow Southern writer Cheney and his wife Frances. Of these letters 117 are by O'Connor, first published herein. O'Connor was an unrivaled humorist and these letters find her at her most disarmingly straightforward and drawling. The correspondence opens when O'Connor thanks Cheney for his review of her first novel, Wise Blood, which she thought one of the few reviews that understood it. The same review appears in the appendix, and the reader may find the review burdensomely literary (several other reviews of O'Connor by the Cheneys also appear here). Cheney, then her senior by 25 years and a recent convert to Catholicism, was also a novelist; and her comments to him about his manuscripts are part of the treasure of the correspondence, since they show her own strategies as a Christian novelist: ""I would leave out that stuff about rosary beads. Catholic writers [she was a born Catholic] must always avoid plugs for the Church."" Somehow, by being less obvious, she got across her religious vision with greater power. Though lampooning herself as a ""Cathlick interleckchul"" on a tiny Georgia dairy farm, she was ever modest about big ideas: ""I'm glad you have discovered Teilhard [de Chardin]. I think he's great. The science is over my head, but I think he's also a great visionary."" Salty, ironic. On a far-fetched image in a Cheney manuscript: ""This is not the kind of book that will depend on such things so anything like that sticks out, I'd just remove it. When in doubt, operate, according to Dr. O'Connor. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.