Can we chat for a minute, fam? Good. I'll try and make it quick.
This is my favorite type of book. If stories like this were still popular, this would be the only kind of book I'd write. Strong opener and then loads upon loads of character development and realistic dialogue followed by a Holy-Shit! ending. I love getting to know a character and then witnessing the dismantling of that character. I'm a tinkerer at heart. I like to see the way things work. Show me a character's very soul, tear it apart, and let me watch them try to put it back together again. I can dig it, man. Books like this are why I became a writer.
If you need a comparison, I can only place Of Mice and Men and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in the same boat as The Violent Bear It Away. Powerfully bleak stories about folks just trying to get by and trying to stay sane while doing so.
This was my first sample of Flannery O'Connor's writing and it damn sure won't be the last.
In summation: Where has this woman's writing been all my life. I hate that I'm only now finding her work. The Violent Bear It Away has most definitely earned a spot on my Top Twenty list. Now I have to figure out who's getting bumped so I can make room for it.
Final Judgment: Get down from the cross, we could use the wood; Capital T--Terrific!