O'Connor's stories are one of the strongest collections of English language short stories of the 20th century. In fact, since I haven't read the complete stories of too many English authors – Brautigan, Faulkner, Vonnegut, and that's probably it – I am tempted to say they are among the very best. Though occasionally her stories are alternately too obscure or too obvious in their moral to be great, most of them are outstanding examples of how to tell a story briefly and well and they are also outstanding examples of the so-called Southern Gothic fixation with death (or general tragedy) and Atmosphere. I can think of few writers in any language who balance so well grisly horror – both actual and moral – with humour. O'Connor's stories form one of the more coherent conceptions of the modernizing world of the early-to-mid 20th century and are absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in American literature, the Southern Gothic thing or just great storytelling in general. An absolute must read. It is a shame it took me this long to get to her.