A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor

June 28, 2013

good man hard to find oconnor Summary (from the publisher): ONE OF THE GREATEST AMERICAN SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS

In 1955, with this short story collection, Flannery O’Connor firmly laid claim to her place as one of the most original and provocative writers of her generation. Steeped in a Southern Gothic tradition that would become synonymous with her name, these stories show O’Connor’s unique, grotesque view of life– infused with religious symbolism, haunted by apocalyptic possibility, sustained by the tragic comedy of human behavior, confronted by the necessity of salvation.

With these classic stories– including “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” “Good Country People,” “The Displaced Person,” and seven other acclaimed tales– O’Connor earned a permanent place in the hearts of American readers.

Warning: Spoilers below!

Liked:

  • This was my first experience with O’Connor’s short stories, so I was unprepared for how dark and vicious most of them were. It started right off the bat with “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, and continued throughout most of the collection. I liked this aspect, as it kept me on my toes wondering what kind of strange twist was in store.
  • “Good Country People” was one of my favorites. It was the oddest of the bunch, IMO, what with the purported Bible salesman actually being some sort of freak that steals prosthetic limbs, and was consequently very memorable.
  • I really enjoyed “The Displaced Person”, too. I don’t know why, but I found it extremely funny that the main character, Mrs. McIntyre, referred to Mr. Guizac by that title (or simply as “the D.P.”) instead of by name.
  • I like reading stories with religious overtones, so O’Connor’s work really seems like a good fit for me. The religious aspect is there and informs her characters’ motivations in many ways, but at the same time, the author isn’t “in your face” about it. She strikes a great balance in that regard — so much so that a reader could choose to ignore the religious themes completely and still get a lot out of each story.

Disliked:

  • Not every story was a hit with me. For example, I didn’t care much for “A Late Encounter with the Enemy” and felt that a couple others dragged a bit in places.
  • The main conflict in “The Artificial Nigger” was hard to understand. The grandfather risked getting lost in the city (and who knows what else) just to show up his grandson? The boy stubbornly insisted that he would love Atlanta no matter what because he was born there? The old man refused to claim the boy after the kid ran into a woman and knocked her down? The whole thing was puzzling. Perhaps I didn’t read closely enough or simply didn’t understand what the author was aiming for….

Rating:

I was well aware of Flannery O’Connor’s reputation as one of America’s greatest short story writers before I sat down with this book, so I had extremely high expectations going in. I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed in the least. Sure, I didn’t love every story, but most of them were compelling, thought-provoking, and memorable. I give this collection 4 stars out of 5.

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