As the recently hired Visitor Services Manager of the Flannery O'Connor-Andalusia Foundation I have been asked to write a short entry on this blog to introduce myself. To begin with let me say that it is indeed an honor and a privilege to work at Andalusia. While I cannot claim to be a long-time admirer of O'Connor - indeed I read her for the first time this spring - my discovery of her powerful fiction at the age of 52 consititutes the great literary find of my life. It is sometimes hard to believe that one of the giants of twentieth-century literature lived right here in middle Georgia and that I have the good fortune to be working at the place where she penned her novels and stories. How did this all happen?
On a bright day in early June, my wife, Judy, and I visited Andalusia for the first time. As we turned into the driveway off Highway 441 we left behind the strip malls, fast food restaurants, and chain motels cluttering the landscape and entered the cloistered serentity of another time. Crossing the peaceful fields and pasture land, the main house slowly came into view. I could almost picture Flannery standing on the front porch waiting to greet us. I will never forget walking through the front door and peering into Flannery's room. Athough I have been to the homes of a number of writers, never had I felt so close to an author as I did at that moment. Andalusia exerted almost a magnetic pull and it was very hard to leave, even after spending two hours at the farm. Not surprisingly, Judy and I returned the following week for another visit. I don't know what motivated me, but during that visit I asked Craig out of the blue if he could use any volunteers. To my delight, he said he could.
Little did I imagine when I started volunteering on July 6th that my work at Andalusia would turn into a job that is such a labor of love. It is a pleasure to work for Craig, and I want to thank him and the members of the Andalusia board for this opportunity. I look forward to sharing my enthusiasm for Flannery O'Connor with our visitors and to promoting an increased appreciation and understanding of her great literary achievements.
- Mark Jurgensen