Reading Flannery at Night


Lately, Flannery and I are spending a few minutes together in the evenings. There is really no better (well, at the very least, no cheaper) solution for a Southern girl’s slight homesickness than relaxing into a short story that examines sharecroppers or the pitfalls of racism or flowers or a young woman’s silly dreams or the pain of aging in a warm, comfortable drawl.

I have this collection of her stories (The Complete Stories, introduced by Robert Giroux) and a number of other books on my bookshelf that I’ve never read — books that I purchased because I wanted to take more courses than my college scholarship covered, so I would buy the textbooks for courses I never actually took. I’m connecting so closely with Flannery, and wish I had studied her more when I had the chance.

On Sunday I got my Chicago public library card. My favorite thing about living in a real city is the breadth and depth of the library systems, and getting my library card was on my list of Twenty-five Things that I wanted to do here in the Windy City. Also on that list: eat brunch until I can successfully identify the top-ten brunch locations within fifteen miles. So far, I’m pretty sure that Bongo Room is going to stay at the top of the list. And Yolk? Please do not invite me there. Completely overrated.

The seventh floor of the downtown library is the literature floor. After a bit of wandering, I found an entire shelf of literary scholarship about Flannery’s life and writing and death and family and topical collections and so on. There was so much to choose from, but I didn’t check out anything. I want to take a little more time getting to know her before other opinions enter the mix.

I’m trying to do the same here, in our new home. Everyone “loves” Chicago, but I want to know it so I can know if I actually love it, or casually like it or find it mildly annoying. So it might be a while until I have a clear, specific answer on the entire city and how well we fit in it.

This week, however, we are doing very well and it is starting to feel normal. And that is a good sign.



  1. Meagan

    Hi MB! This is Meagan – I went to high school with you. (I know there were a million of us; just email if you can’t figure out which one I am!) I’ve been reading your blog for a while but I never commented because:
    1. I thought maybe you wouldn’t remember me, and
    2. I thought you might think I was weird for reading your blog when we barely ever spoke in high school. I used to be so shy…

    But anyway, now that you have relocated to Chicago, I thought I should say hi! I live in Madison now, just a couple hours from you. I visit Chicago every few months, so I feel like I’ve been discovering the intricacies of the city just like you are but at a much slower pace. I’m glad you’re settling in well.

    Side note: I actually thought Yolk was pretty good when I went there. I wonder why it’s so inconsistent? I haven’t been to Bongo Room before but I’ll have to add it to my list!

    If you ever need a weekend away from Chicago, feel free to come visit me in Madison! :-)

    • pinkbriefcase

      Thanks for commenting and for the invite!! I’ve never been to Wisconsin and it is totally on my to-do list. And good to hear about Yolk — maybe I need to give it another chance?

    • pinkbriefcase

      This is probably because it is the first one in the book but I am LOVING The Geranium and can’t stop thinking about it even as I read other good stories. But it is early. [Sorry for the lag in response time, life is insane right now.]

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