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The First Annual Fiction Issue

A Cartoon By Flannery O'connor

Flannery O'Connor's short stories are really funny, but no one ever talks about that. It might be because the jokes aren't haw-haw jokes, or it might be because the humor is so dark that a lot of people don't have the taste for it.
FO
Κείμενο Flannery O'connor
1.12.06

Flannery O’Connor’s short stories are really funny, but no one ever talks about that. It might be because the jokes aren’t haw-haw jokes, or it might be because the humor is so dark that a lot of people don’t have the taste for it. She has this way of piling one beat-the-wall setup after another for a couple pages, and then exploding them in a moment of humiliation—or hubris or cruelty or whatever. One example is in her story “Enoch and the Gorilla.” Enoch is new to the city, and he’s alone, carrying a broken umbrella with a dog-headed handle because he thinks it looks “distinguished.” It starts raining buckets. Enoch takes shelter and sees that there is something going on at a theater, some commotion. He goes up and finds out kids are waiting to shake hands with a man in a gorilla suit, to promote a gorilla movie. Enoch worms his way into the line with the idea that he’ll say something to the gorilla—something hurtful and funny that will get all the children’s attention and amuse them. When he finally gets up to the gorilla, he extends his hand, and says, “Name of Enoch. Enoch Emory. Come from… etc.” The man in the gorilla suit, still holding Enoch’s hand, leans forward, close enough that Enoch can see his eyes, and he says, “You go to hell.” Flannery O’Connor made this cartoon while she was in college. She made hundreds of them, and they’re all full of heavy sarcasm and stupid haw-haw jokes, but still, they have a faint suggestion of what’s to come: A genius who is dying of lupus and remembering the people in the South, i.e., comedy gold. VICE STAFF