The Morning Oil (via Black Market Kidneys) (mp3)
Length: 32 minutes
Reader: Flannery O' Connor
The story: A family in Georgia is heading out for a family vacation to Florida. The situation is familiar to anyone who's taken a family road trip this summer: the kids are bratty, the grandmother tells dotty stories, and the father just wants to get there. On this vacation, though, something goes terribly wrong and the story takes a much darker turn.
This is one of my favorite stories ever written. It seems like every time I read it, I find new details that are funny, disturbing, or that give new insight into the complex characters that inhabit this short piece of fiction. The meaning of the story is also complex. Are people generally good or inherently evil? What makes a good person good and and evil person bad? It's a difficult story to interpret, but I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do.
The reader: This reading comes from a talk that O'Connor gave at the University of Notre Dame shortly before her death. A couple paragraphs near the beginning of the story get cut out due to a recording skip, but the lost section isn't vital to the story. The sound quality isn't that great, but it's a pleasure to hear O'Connor reading her own work in her Deep South drawl. The combination of the poor sound and the heavy accent may make it difficult for some people to understand, but being a Southerner myself, I had little problem.