“The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get”

Flannery O’Connor takes down Ayn Rand.

Thank God for Flannery O’Connor. This is for Patrick, Dad, Dave, Alan Greenspan, and all the college freshmen who swear that “OMG, Atlas Shrugged changed my LIFE.” No, it didn’t. You just haven’t read real novels yet.

I hope you don’t have friends who recommend Ayn Rand to you. The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re: fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.

— Flannery O’Connor, talking about writing well here.

7 thoughts on ““The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get”

  1. Well, without Ayn Rand you wouldn’t have The Fountainhead…and without the Fountainhead you wouldn’t have given King Vidor the opportunity to direct Gary Cooper & the femme fatale Patricia Neal. As an artist I would never discourage anyone from enjoying their creative outlet. Arguably no one doubts Flannery O’Connor literary prowess, but what purpose does this snipe serve? Maybe I’m missing the whole chide.

  2. Abby,
    I found your blog through my friend Beth’s blog. I am thrilled at your reviews and posts and reading lists – so many more books for me to read. I have another friend, Bonnie who reads more than me – http://beingtransformed-bonnie.blogspot.com/ – it’s good for us readers to have friends who read more than we do – or different books than we do. If we could sit down over a cup of coffee together I’d love to hear how you think Ayn Rand is like Clive Cussler. One summer home from college I did plow through a stack of Dirk Pitt novels, I remember a bit about them, but will never read them again. I did not like Atlas Shrugged – that book is synonymous with Rand’s name. When I think about Atlas I think of it as her propoganda book, but I hardly hear anyone talk about The Fountainhead. It is true I take issue with how Rand deals with romantic relationships in this book, and I can see why you put her in the category of machismo, so to speak, but there is something about Roark that I like. It’s how she portrays him as an architect/designer – understanding materials and design. He’s a creator and unwilling to create unless he can create things that are truthful – honest, meaning they have to reveal how they were made, they have to have a relationship with place, they also have a relationship with the people who will use them. (I know you have Berry on your list and there is another book The Geography of Nowhere which I think is essential even though it’s depressing.) I have read The Fountainhead three times and I keep hovering around certain passages and ideas where she almost touches on something that is true about what man was created to do – an honesty/integrity. It’s fetal and if you look at the entire body of her work (and knowing about her beliefs) it probably has to be aborted, but still I return to look again, ask again, think again. I don’t think I’ll ever pick up another Clive Cussler book. So, all this to ask if I may make a reservation to disagree with you about Rand sometime in the future? I’m not confident I’ve read enough though – I haven’t read Flannery, but to put her in the same category as Cussler and Brown – ouch! I saw that you are reading Bellows. I became aware of him while reading Sayer’s How To Read Slowly and he’s on my list for this year. I also have not yet read Dostoyevsky, but I’m almost ready. He has always seemed so foreign to me – not to mention voluminous. I am just finishing a reread of all of Potok’s novels (for some of them this will be a 4th time through), and I’m reading a book about the Russian Revolution which I would not have understood at all without Potok. Next up is a book, Why Lenin, Why Stalin? and then (or at the same time) The Brothers Karamazov (I remember Beth and her son Jonathan reading this one). I just want to know something about ‘Russia’ – it’s history/character before reading Dostoyevsky. I did notice there was no Potok on any of your lists – have you read him? I have read only a few of the same books you have and also only a few of your books from your To Read list. You should move Art of the Commonplace to your Nonfiction List (it is the perfect companion to Animal Vegetable Miracle) and add Hannah Coulter or Andy Catlett to your Fiction list for Berry. You should also add Leavings to your list. My favorite Berry, though is That Distant Land – I love Ptolemy Proudfoot. I found a chronology of all Berry’s Port William writings and read most of them chronologically. So, I’m looking at your list thinking – boy do I have a lot to read, and I’m still spending all this time rereading books! I like to reread, though. What books do you reread?

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