Van has finished reading…My Oedipus Complex by Frank O’Connor

16 Jun

It was agent @MissCarrieK’s exhortation to read the classics that bought me to this collection of Mr O’Connor’s short stories. I began to read with specific questions in my mind: What makes these stories great? In what way are they classics? What is it Frank O’Connor does that sets his work apart? I confess that the first couple of stories left me cold. His descriptions were precise and vivid, his characters whole, his voice distinct, but there was nothing extraordinary – no startling viewpoint that urged a ground-shaking re-examination of life or the wider world.
Then I read one of the stories to Mrs Van. And there it was. Aloud the language comes alive. The story comes alive. And that’s when it struck me why these are great stories. There are no tricks or gimmicks, no fancy viewpoints nor stylistics quirks. They are stories, pure and simple, about people and the things they think and feel. They are deep and they are real. Real people in real places doing real things. They are stories that neither defy analysis nor invite it; rather they raise an eyebrow at you and question why you’d want to. Far better, surely, simply to enjoy them. And enjoy them I did.
I’d add that The Mad Lomasneys is quite possibly the saddest short story I think I’ve ever read.

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