Just posted to the website, our full Fall Books issue. Among the many highlights, Cassandra Nelson writes on Flannery O’Connor’s approach to the idea of “vision” in her fiction and nonfiction:
O’Connor’s aim in rehabilitating the word vision was twofold. First, she wanted to restore the earlier concept of inner vision—sight with the mind’s eye—to Catholic writers and readers alike, since “the Lord doesn’t speak to the novelist as he did to his servant, Moses, mouth to mouth. He speaks to him as he did those two complainers, Aaron and Aaron’s sister, Mary: through dreams and visions, in fits and starts, and by all the lesser and limited ways of the imagination” (Mystery and Manners). Second, she tried to push back against the ways in which technology—whether in the form of film, photography, television, or even microscopes—threatens to further narrow and distort our understanding of vision, by stripping it not only of an imaginative component, but of embodiment, coherence, and any sense of reciprocity between viewer and viewed. “The human eye is not the camera eye,” one manuscript reads. “Vision takes place in the depths of the mind, with the assistance of emotion, knowledge, and belief.”
Read all of “Seeing Is Believing” here.
Commonweal associate editor Matthew Boudway writes on Cormac McCarthy’s misfits:
Critics have often described McCarthy as a writer beyond good and evil: his characters may appeal to moral ideas, they concede, but McCarthy himself gives it to us straight, describing a massacre or a rape the same way he might describe a meteor shower—with care and precision, but without judgment. The same flat and ruthless light seems to fall on every scene of his novels, and this indiscriminate attention can be disorienting. … But the critics are wrong. Beneath the neuter austerity of McCarthy’s prose, a keen moral imagination is at work, one that finds hints of communion—of “unguessed kinships”—in unexpected places, including some any sane person would avoid. If Graham Greene’s fiction haunts the seamier quarters of purgatory, McCarthy’s often harrows hell with a disconcerting zeal.
Read all of “Children of God?” here.
We’re also featuring James F. Keenan’s review of John T. McGreevy’s American Jesuits and the World, a new short story from Alice McDermott, and not one, not two, but three new poems from Marie Ponsot. See the full table of contents for everything in our Fall Books issue.