Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor
Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux
Published on: January 1965
Page Count: 272
Genre: Short Stories
My Reading Format: Audiobook won during June Is Audiobook Month
Audiobook Published by: Blackstone Audio
Narrator: Bronson Pinchot, Karen White, Lorna Raver, Mark Bramhall
Audiobook Length: 9 hours and 5 minutes
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook and audiobook
When I first endeavored to read Flannery O’Connor I began with her novel, The Violent Bear It Away. If the wrong and somewhat inappropriate titles I kept tweeting about were any indicator, it didn’t click with me. It was suggested that I start with her short stories, specifically A Good Man is Hard to Find. I have been wanting to give Everything That Rises Must Converge a listen ever since I won it from Karen White’s June Is Audiobook Month giveaway, so I took most of that advice. While I’ve yet to read A Good Man is Hard to Find, O’Connor’s short stories are fantastic.
I would have to reread Everything That Rises Must Converge in order to talk in more depth about each story. O’Connor has much to say about discord in family relations, faith, and race relations. What stood out the most to me was the relationship between adult children living with or near their parents. In every occurence, this situation led to nearly paralyzing resentment for at least one of the parties involved. With each story, O’Connor shines more and more light on how common yet unnatural those living arrangements are. The story that most brilliantly illustrates this is “A View of the Woods.” You have the struggle of a parent to manipulate and control his daughter seep down into the next generation with the most devastating results.
I had a personnally hilarious Aha moment listening to this audiobook for reasons completely unrelated to the text. I have been interested in listening to one of Bronson Pinchot’s audiobooks since I first learned that he was a narrator. He, along with Karen White, Lorna Raver and Mark Bramhall narrate the stories in this collection. A male narrator read the first story. I assumed it was Mark Bramhall. Then, Karen White narrated “Greenleaf.” I knew that the second male narrator was a) different from the first and b) the same man who narrated A Prayer for Owen Meany (which I really must finish). Unfortunately, the audiobook didn’t list which narrator read which story. So, I thought, was Bronson Pinchot the first male narrator? I assumed it couldn’t have been him, but how? I guess I thought I would know it was him when I heard him. To be sure, I went on Audible.com and listened to a clip from Matterhorn. Yes, the first male narrator was, in fact, Bronson Pinchot. As soon as I hear that clip I realized I had been expecting some kind of foreign accent like Balki Bartokomous from Perfect Strangers. I laughed myself to the point of tears. Reading clears up ignorance in more ways than one. Bronson Pinchot is a fantastic narrator.
All of the narrators who collaborated on Everything That Rises Must Converge were outstanding. Audiophile Magazine has selected this audiobook as one of the best of the year and rightly so. The magazine also recognized Lorna Raver and Bronson Pinchot for their particular roles on this project. For me, each of the narrators brought life to the stories they read. Karen White, who I’ve previously experienced in a whimsical romantic novel, was impressive as the self-righteous Mrs. May, ranting against the world, but most especially the bull running rough shot over her land. I think the voice of Grandfather Fortune as rendered by Mark Bramhall will remain with me forever. He made me love an otherwise unlovable cantakerous old man.
Whether you’re new to Flannery O’Connor or would like to revisit her work, I highly suggest picking up this audiobook from Blackstone Audio. It’s a reader’s treat.