Estelle Parsons reading Flannery O’Connor’s “Everything that Rises Must Converge” is one of the best ways to introduce students to the humor of O’Connor. I often play the first ten minutes of Parsons’ reading for my students. This provides a quick intro to the storyline and allows them to hear the audience’s laughter—and to know that it is okay to laugh in response to O’Connor.
Then, I send my students off to read O’Connor.
Estelle Parsons performed O’Connor’s story during the fifth season of “Selected Shorts: A Celebration of the Short Story” at Symphony Space, New York in 1989. Parsons won the Academy Award in 1967 playing Blanche Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde; in 2011, she appeared alongside Frances McDormand in the play Good People (McDormand won the Tony for Best Leading Actress in a Play that year). In April, 2018—after a long and vibrant career on stage, TV and in film—Parsons returned to television to reprise her role from Roseanne as Beverly Harris, Roseanne and Jackie’s mother. No word whether she will appear in the spinoff of Roseanne, “The Conners.”
This November 27, Parsons will be 91 years old.