There is something about Flannery O'Connor's "The River" that gives you the same sinking feeling you get when you crest the highest hill of a roller coaster---you see the twisted mangled mass of tracks out before you, and you know that you're going to dive headfirst into it, and there' s nothing you can do to stop it; you are at the mercy of the laws of physics.
For me, "The River" is something like that. I refuse to post any spoilers on this blog, but what I will say, is that Flannery sets us up so well for the ending, that we're not 100 percent sure we even see it coming. We're still enjoying the few little dips and turns of the gentle roller coaster weaving as it prepares for the big climb. When I got a hint of what was to come, I felt so helpless, I so wanted to dive into the story and among the characters to effect a change, but I felt like I was at the top of the roller coaster, and I got that same sinking feeling in my stomach.
Powerful stuff. Read it.