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5 responses to “Books by Suzy Vitello’s Bed”

  1. Dick Cummins


    Nice narrative voice!

    But here’s a quibble about poor Ms. O’Connor’s writing.

    Flannery O’Connor has many fans, which brings to mind Vonnegut in fact, as in 1965 he assigned “A Good Man” in our Form of Fiction class saying “Ms. O’Connor was one of the best writers in America, a true artist.”

    I must have read “A Good Man” in high school but read it again carefully – this time paying close attention to the ‘conflict, action, personality, intent…physical business and not only the promise (but the strict construction of) ‘plot … and scene setting’.

    In fact I read the story twice, paying attention to craft and the ‘true artistry’ of the above mentioned story components.

    It struck me that a better title for this story would have been “Escaped God-of-Wrath Blows Brains Out of Old Woman, Others: A Contemporary Bible Story and Parable.”

    Or “Religion and Human Dominance Hierarchy Explained.”

    What suspended my disbelief in “A Good Man” was Ms. O’Connor’s stiffly constructed plot.

    With no explanation of how such a thing could be possible, Ms. O’Connor shoves a plot cat into a lunch basket, then puts a magical clothe over it, perhaps a travel shroud.

    It would have helped to mention the dose of laudanum necessary to keep any cat, even this plot mouser, shrouded on the floorboard of a bouncing car——through so many miles of twisting philosophy——without trying to escape the epistemology.

    Then, at just the right moment, the deus ex machina Felix leaps from its story advancement lunch basket, grapples up the back of the driver’s seat and sinks the talons of righteousness into the neck of Ms. O’Connor’s chauffer.

    This causes him to swerve the car into a ditch and up against a tree. You’d think that would be the end of it, but no. At this point of denouement, a euphemism, her enraged driver grasps the Cat of Just Punishment, detaches its fish hooks from his neck, (try this once Suzy) then artfully …throws it brutally out the window and up against a tree.

    This is imaginative writing at its best.

    Not that I have some PETA-inspired objection to flung cats——or even a dead Wall Street one that bounces once—— metaphorically.

    No – it’s just that real cats are nothing like O’Connor cats when she needs to advance a plot – because only a supernatural O’Connor cat can be FLUNG at all – at least without taking a hand and forearm along with it.

    So for me, once an author’s reality testing has become suspect, even though the writing involves some good elements of – conflict, action, personality, intent, dialogue, scene setting and plot advancement, I tend read the work as unserious, the same as Bible stories, and especially “parables” that somehow try to justify religion, although the how and why of this, O’Connor scholars have trouble explaining even now…

    1. Suzy Vitello

      Thanks for the insight, Dick. There’s lots of “throwing” in AGMIHTF. Flinging/throwing/chaos.

      Remember, Flannery was a bird person. She probably had it in for the cat from the get-go!

  2. Dick Cummins class of '70


    Glad you weren’t (too) offended by my derivative “Literary Offenses of F. O’Connor” – a la Twain v. Copper. Just attitudinizing and fun to write.

    BTW – when I expressed to Vonnegut my dissenting opinion about Ms. O’Connor being “the best short story writer in America and a true artist” he became distant.

    I should not have said that I thought she was but an author of high class religious tracts either, this especially after someone else in class mentioned that much of her writing was currently being criticized as catechistic and apologia. Not sure, but that may have been Andre Dubus and I think he said he had gone to the library to do some research on the subject.

    Anyway, birds? Makes sense… so “Everything that Rises Must (or Must Not) Converge is a “…let your spiritual reach exceed your grasp, or what’s a heaven for” maybe?

    And whether or not you care about her stories being labeled as “instructive religious parables,” they were/are a hell of a lot more fun to read than Henry James.

    I know, heresy again. Guess I am just “…an absurd man, neither analyzing or solving but instead just observing, with lucid indifference.”

    This sounds like something from “The Myth of Sisyphus” that I recently read quoted on the opening page of John Mortimer’s Clinging to the Wreckage, which I recommend highly!

    Mortimer claims that it is far better to cling to the wreckage after a yachting accident than try and swim to safety——thus surely drowning.

    His eyesight was never good so he could not judge the distance to land I suppose. Cheers … dc

  3. Valerie Brooks

    Tom hit his zenith in his new novel. I’ve been a big fan of THE BEAUTIFUL RUINS and recommend it to everyone. And I agree: O’Connor’s work stays with me and IS a lot more fun than Henry James. Thanks Suzy.

    1. Suzy Vitello

      Hi Valerie! Great to see you here! I just finished THE FINANCIAL LIVES OF THE POETS, too. Really entertaining, that Walter guy.

      Thanks for the comment!


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