Saturday, October 30, 2010

In Celebration of Genius

Just arrived in our gift shop...Flannery O'Connor: In Celebration of Genius. Published in 2000, this aptly titled work edited by Sarah Gordon contains commemorative essays, fiction, and poetry by some of today's most important writers paying tribute to the genius of Flannery O'Connor. There are contributions from those who counted her as a friend (e.g. Miller Williams and Robert Coles) and others who never met her but were inspired by the timelessness of her fiction. This hard-to-find volume sells for $21.95. Supplies are limited. If you can't come out to Andalusia, you can use your credit card (478-454-4029) and we will happily mail you a copy.
- Mark

Friday, October 22, 2010

Deep Roots

Tomorrow Milledgeville hosts the seventh annual Deep Roots Festival. This popular street fair celebrates the heritage of middle Georgia with down-home music, barbecue, and arts and crafts. If you're planning on coming - and I would heartily encourage you to do so as the weather is going to be absolutely gorgeous - why not make a day of it and visit Andalusia, too. There are very few places in town with roots that go as deep as the O'Connor's family farm. Prior to the Civil War -long before the O'Connors acquired it - Andalusia was a 1,700 acre plantation, one of the largest in Baldwin County. Moreover, there are very few families in Milledgeville whose roots go as deep as the O'Connors. Flannery's great grandfather, Hugh Donnelly Treanor, emigrated from Ireland in 1824 and went into business as a grist mill operator. He is credited with being one of the founding members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and the first mass ever celebrated in Milledgeville occurred in his hotel room (see Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch - p. 21). Milledgeville can be rightly proud of its heritage, one that was in no small measure enriched by the contributions of the O'Connor family, especially a certain author who went on to become one of the greatest short story writers this country has ever produced.
- Mark

Friday, October 15, 2010

Andalusia Unchained

Things have been hopping here at Andalusia this past week. With visits from college groups, church groups, foreign tourists, and, today, a group of 150 first-graders, we've been kept pretty busy. The weather couldn't be nicer as the days have been bright, clear, and pleasantly warm. It appears we have finally turned the corner from summer to fall. The leaves are changing and I'm seeing more deer and wild turkeys on the property, especially when I drive in first thing in the morning. This afternoon we are expecting a visit from Francis Allen, executive director and president of The Unchained Tour, to discuss the possibilities of doing some filming at Andalusia to promote his group. What is The Unchained Tour? It is an organization that travels by bus around the state of Georgia with performing artists and storytellers to support local, independent bookstores. For more information, visit their website at Finally, don't forget that critically-acclaimed author Mary Helen Stefaniak will be at Andalusia on Monday evening to read from her new book, The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase in our gift shop.
- Mark

Friday, October 8, 2010

"The Original Tin Ear"

One of the rare privileges for me working at Andalusia is meeting some of the people who knew Flannery O'Connor personally. These occasions are as infrequent as they are memorable. Such a meeting occurred this past Monday when one of Flannery's former piano teachers visited the farm. This enthusiastic nun was such a delight. She shared many interesting stories and anecdotes about her famed pupil who went on to achieve much greater success on typewriter keys than piano keys. Flannery, who once referred to herself as "the original tin ear," took music lessons at the parochial school of Sacred Heart Catholic Church (operated briefly by the Sisters of St. Joseph in the early 1950s). According to the good sister, Flannery was a diligent student who practiced hard to get all the notes right, though this sometimes resulted in wooden, mechanical playing. While Flannery may not have been the most proficient pianist going down the street (she once quipped, "St. Cecilia wouldn't know what to do with me."), the fond memories her former teacher has of Flannery are indelibly etched on her mind. By the way, if you are interested in seeing the piano that Flannery practiced on, come out to Andalusia and see it on display in our gift shop.
- Mark
P.S. All quotes are taken from A Literary Guide to Flannery O'Connor's Georgia - p. 52

Friday, October 1, 2010

Big Doings in October

As preparations are well underway at the farm for our bluegrass concert tomorrow night, we are enjoying a bright, beautiful fall morning. Tomorrow promises more of the same so we hope all of you will think about coming out to Andalusia for a night of music, food, and fun. October is a big month here, what with the bluegrass concert tomorrow, Mary Helen Sefaniak's reading and book signing on Oct. 18th, and several school and college groups scheduled to visit in the next few weeks. But this is also a significant month at Flannery O'Connor's Childhood Home in Savannah. On Oct. 13th, the twenty finalists for the 2010 National Book Award in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and young people's literature will be announced there by noted author Pat Conroy. The O'Connor home was selected from more than 75 possible venues for this event. Given the fact that Flannery won the National Book Award (posthumously) for fiction in 1972 for her Complete Stories and that last fall the same book was voted the Best of the National Book Awards recipients for fiction of the past sixty years, we believe she is worthy of this additional honor.
- Mark