So my mind was slightly put at ease by thinking of F.O'Connor stories as "horror stories" rather than "normal" tale telling. I'm half a book in so I am speaking from a naive point of view.
Jonathan Rogers called me out on this; horror story not being naive. How is my approach different?
For me one of the differences is removal. I keep up my mental/emotional guards for horror stories. The original "Friday The 13th" had suspense and an element of mystery. After a few of these they were a joke of themselves and moved more into a shock/action/comedy realm. The first one had you mildly interested in the folks. There was also tension of "who is doing this and why?" That was out the door after the first.
I find a difference between horror stories (unsettle you) rather than shock stories which merely disgust you by affronting your normal sense of taste, decency, or morality. I'm secure enough to withstand shock stories or just turn them off for the insults that they are.
Horror stories lure me into the story. If my guards are not up then I get unsettled. I know this defeats the point of the horror story. They are aiming to make me think about them or feel something for some time afterwards. I can only enjoy them once I try to not get sucked in.
My biggest (and most effective) disconnect is I won't identify with any of the characters. I don't fall into seeing the story from their eyes, or imagining what I would do. Horror stories burn me when I've connected to someone and they end up being the bad guy. I simply don't need the reminder of my brokenness. Not being pollyanna about life. I am aware of my need for grace and the grace that has been given.
I thought F.O'Connor was an excellent story teller for creating such believable situations and people. At various points through the stories I identified with the ignorance of the character; or the desire to make someone pay for some slight that they imparted on me. My results have never been so tragic as these stories have gone.