Writing violence
John McGahern and Flannery O’Connor
in John McGahern
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This chapter focuses on two stories: John McGahern's 'The Beginning of an Idea', and Flannery O'Connor's 'A Good Man Is Hard to Find'. 'The Beginning of an Idea' plays fast and loose with narrative coherence, prompting questions as to how many stories go to make up this ostensibly single work of fiction. The whole of Chekhov's tale 'Oysters' is embedded within McGahern's prose, daring to risk comparison with the Russian master. These two stories betray their authors' unease with any hope of salvation in and for this earth. They appear to be pessimistic in regard to the capacity of any individual to rise above the helpless lot dealt out to them. McGahern and O'Connor find the secrets of life in the warping of good intentions, certainly in these stories, for there is about the women at the centre of each a lethal innocence.

John McGahern

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