This study explores the dualities that inform the entire body of Flannery O'Connor's fiction. From the almost unredeemable world of Wise Blood to the climactic moments of revelation that infuse The Violent Bear It Away and Everything That Rises Must Converge, O'Connor's novels and stories wrestle with extremes of faith and reason, acceptance and revolt; they arch between cool narrative and explosive action, between a sacramental vision and a primary intuition of reality.
Asals's study is an investigation of the dynamics of O'Connor's imagination, and as such it is one of the most complex, challenging, and intellectually exciting studies of her work yet to appear. . . . A superb and penetrating analysis.
—Flannery O'Connor Bulletin
To my taste, the most impressive book [of O'Connor criticism] published to date. . . . Asals is especially helpful because, unlike the horde of critics who expound a static deductive vision on O'Connor's part, he traces her growth toward the relative serenity of her later work.
—New York Review of Books
The best book yet written on Flannery O'Connor, not only scholarly, useful, and intelligent, but written with a clarity and grace rare in critical prose. It is an impressive achievement.
—Modern Fiction Studies
An impressive piece of scholarship, with an abundance of informative notes. Asals' assertions are invariably provocative, and the essentially severe view of O'Connor is a valuable corrective to the sentimentalized Christian humanist theory.