A Good Autodidact Is Hard to Find
For the Atlantic‘s “By Heart,” “a series in which authors share and discuss their all-time favorite passages in literature,” Jim Shepard discusses Flannery O’Connor, James Joyce, and the painfully fleeting nature of epiphany:
This kind of conversion notion is based on a very comforting idea—that if only we had sufficient information, we wouldn’t act badly. And that’s one of the great things about what The Misfit tells the Grandmother in the line I like so much. He’s not saying that a near-death experience would have turned her into a good woman. He’s saying it would take somebody threatening to shoot her every minute of her life.