The Life You Save Could Be Your Own by Flannery O’Connor

Confession time. I have a deep (and possibly unhealthy) love for Flannery O’Connor. As in, for a long stretch in my early twenties, she was my go-to Halloween costume. Yes, indeed. And no, explaining you are Flannery O’Connor at college parties is not a good way to meet people. Though it is a good way to figure out who all the writers in a room are. So actually, that was probably a win for me.

When most people hear the name Flannery O’Connor, they likely think of A Good Man is Hard To Find, which is probably her most famous and most read short story. I personally think of Good Country People, which is about a door-to-door Bible salesman and a girl with one leg. But I’m actually going to talk today about The Life You Save Could Be Your Own. I think it is the most Flannery O’Connor-esque story ever written. I could be wrong, but in my mind, The Life You Save Could Be Your Own is the most undistilled, humorous version of O’Connor’s world view and the least apologetic. It’s Southern Gothic as fuck, you might say. Continue reading…

The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway

Of course we would start with Hemingway, and of course it would be with Francis Macomber. It couldn’t be any other way, really. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber was the first short story I ever read. That isn’t true. There plenty of times I was forced to read condensed classics, abridged into easily digestible morsels. Those public middle school mistakes made me distrustful of shorter works because they often were insulting. My opinion at fifteen was short fiction was for chumps.

When I think of my evolution as both a reader and as a writer, my introduction to Hemingway was an important milestone. Important enough that I can remember it eleven years later. Francis Macomber was the first short story that challenged me and revealed all that could be possible in just a few quick pages. It started a love affair with brevity that is still running its course. Continue reading…