A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories

Thursday, March 14, 2013

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.”


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I think this is a perfect collection for someone who doesn't love shorts as well -- there is a story for everyone in the collection. Glad u had a chance to try it.

Jeanne said...

The title story, besides spawning more bad jokes and other titles than any other, is one that sticks with me almost word for word and comes up unexpectedly in certain situations, especially the line about how "she would of been a good woman if there had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate said...

I typically don't select short stories either but this looks like a great selection to delve into this genre. I am adding it to my list. Thanks for sharing!
Rebecca @ The Key to the Gate

JoAnn said...

I've finally started appreciating short stories over the last couple of years and am slowly working my way through O'Connor's collected works. Thanks for this post!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Diane - I agree, it's like a starter collection for people trying to get into short stories.

Jeanne - Isn't that line fantastic! I loved that story too.

Rebecca - It's good. If I loved short stories this book would definitely have been a 5 star for me.

JoAnn - I'm still trying to appreciate them. I have always struggled with enjoying short stories and poetry, but I think it's good to challenge myself with new ones.

Meytal Radzinski said...

Flannery O'Connor is an author I've been meaning to read for years and years, but I keep... not. The fact that you found this so powerful despite not being such a huge fan of short stories really nails it - I need to read this...

Nikki Steele said...

Ack! This has been on my list for so long. Will get to it very soon.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Biblibio - I was deinitely impressed!

Nikki - It was on my TBR shelf for so long!!!

Selah said...

I know what you mean about short stories not sticking with you. I recently read Agatha Christie's The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories. I honestly am still not sure if I had read it before or if the stories seemed vaguely familiar simply because I've read so MUCH of Christie work.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Selah - I've had that happen with authors I love. LibraryThing is so helpful for me when it comes to keeping track of what I've read/own/still want to read.