By Haley Sheehy, Ponce de Leon
“The great advantage of being a Southern writer is that we don’t have to go anywhere to look for manners; bad or good, we’ve got them in abundance.”
- Flannery O'Connor (Mystery and Manners, pg. 103)
Joy Hopewell has a wooden leg and a Ph.D. in Philosophy. She has also concocted the most hideous name to call herself -- “Hulga” -- and has her name legally changed to it, much to her mother’s dismay. A young, schmoozy, valise-toting Bible salesman named Manley Pointer shows up, Hulga tries to seduce him, and he ends up running off with her leg, leaving her in a barn loft questioning her life choices.
O’Connor is a Southern shade-thrower with a penchant for violence. Her characters are the best of the worst, yet supremely relatable. Some of us are dealing with difficult mothers we can never really please. Some of us are living with a chronic illness or a disability no one really understands. Some of us are as evil as we are good. In very few pages, O’Connor poses these questions to her readers: what makes “good country people,” and are there any walking among us?