From the Editors
FFlannery O'Connor knew a thing or two about freaks. She knew how to take the basest of human impulses, twist them through the lens of the grotesque, and reflect back to us our best and worst tendencies, often simultaneously; she understood the peculiarity of a region that is rooted in both a culture of violence and a culture of honor, as well as how there is often a complicated intersection between the two; she was able to recognize the freak and, more importantly, to humanize him or her. For this preternatural ability to capture the freaky and the Southern, O'Connor is hailed as one of our region's foremost writers, a documentarian of the South as a place and the Southerner as an identity.
So much of our identity is rooted in where we come from, after all. Think about the conversations you've had when meeting someone new, how one of the first questions asked is, "Where are you from?" We are Tennesseans or Nashvillians or Southerners or UT fans, marked by our hometowns or our allegiances as much as we are by our first names.
So what do you do, then, when the identity afforded by where you came from doesn't mesh with the identity you want for yourself (or, worse yet and also more likely, the one you need for yourself)? This is discord common to the modern Southerner, particularly the young, progressive one. To grow up in a region defined by its intolerance while striving to develop an identity that bucks that definition is to live a life of constant conflict, one's own identity inevitably shaped by the scars left from two sides constantly at odds.
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