A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories
by Flannery O’Connor
O’Connor is often called the master of the short story and that moniker is well-earned. As I read this collection I recognized many of the stories. I’d read them as part of other collections, but they were just as powerful the second time around. They are vivid and eerie with just a tinge of moral lessons sprinkled in.
I tend to avoid short stories because they never seem to stick with me. Usually I can read a dozen of them and forget them by the next day, but this book was different. O’Connor’s stories are drenched in a thick southern mood and filled with morose characters who are disenchanted with life. She writes achingly realistic portrayals of men and women from all walks of life; bitter elderly grandparents, a wandering tramp roped into settling down, a neglected boy, a crippled young woman, a Confederate general, etc.
One story is a poignant reminder that racism is something you learn, not something you are born with. Those horrible prejudices are something we acquire as we watch other’s actions. Another introduces us to a Bible salesman who isn’t all that he appears to be. Yet another tells the story of a family on a road trip and the strange men who cross their path with devastating consequences. In each one O’Connor captures the dark underbelly of human nature, whether it’s malice, racism, neglect, etc.
BOTTOM LINE: Even if you don’t love short stories, give this one a chance! These small portraits of Southern life pack a powerful punch for their size.
“He didn’t have any use for history because he never expected to meet it again.”
“Well, it takes all kinds of people to make the world go ‘round. It’s very good we aren’t all alike.”