K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > A Good Man Is Hard to Find And Other Stories

A Good Man Is Hard to Find And Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor
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Oct 31, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: short-stories, race, religion, 501
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books (Modern Fiction)
Read from October 29 to 31, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 1

So far, the best short story collection that I've read. Flannery O'Connor's prose can make you sing. However, the songs are predominantly dark, tragic and sad. The most appropriate image that I can think of is that scene in The Wizard of Oz when the tornado is ravaging the Kansas farm of Dorothy's parents and then picture her singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" while the bicycle-riding wicked witch is smiling at her.

Quite an appropriate picture because Flannery O'Connor was born in Georgia and Dorothy is from Kansas. This collection of 10 short stories with A Good Man is Hard to Find as the banner story is all set in Tennessee and Georgia. The stories are all about common town folks during O'Connor's life; this book was first published in 1953 and she died in 1964 (my birthyear). O'Connor, a devout Catholic, said that her objective in writing was to reveal the mystery of God's grace in everyday life and this stated purpose does not come on a silver platter when she serves you her stories. You have to think. At times you would even say, "Where is God's grace in here?" You have to reflect at the end of each story as God can be in the characters' suffering: it is when it's dark when you see the stars. This is not an easy read but a very engaging one. The twists and turns of the events are all very unexpected. Unlike Dorothy's rainbow, the colors of O'Connor's rainbow are all dark and bleak. It is up to you, the reader, how you can transform your life to put colors in your own rainbow.

O'Connor's short stories are different from the ones that I so far enjoyed. Alice Munro's stories in The Progress of Love are so well told you would love her to write several others about her characters. Raymond Carver's strength say in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love is in presenting slices of life capturing its minutiae very distinctly and closing his story abruptly as if he is freezing the scene. Haruki Murakami's sparse prose and imagination in say Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman are something that are himself alone and put him in his own league.

In contrast, above the beauty of her prose and the darkness of her stories, O'Connor's strength is on unpredicability of her plot and the twist that she presents towards the end. Although these stories are not easy to read, me being unfamiliar with some Southern English words, i.e., think Alice Walker's The Color Purple, you will hold on to each story and eagerly wait - breath controlled - for the last paragraph. Then since you liked the story, I just couldn't help but move to the next until you finish all the 10 stories.

SPOILERS ALERT! (I just don't want to forget some of the stories that I found amazing so I want to capture them here for my future reference).

A Good Man is Hard to Find The grandmother is a mouthy kick-ass Georgian woman. There is Misfit who is a prison escapee. I laughed on the scene where the grandma made a mistake of referring to a Tennessee farm when in fact that was in Georgia. They had an accident. And the Misfit and his cohorts came and killed the family one by one. Last to get killed was the grandma.

The River The orphan 5-y/o boy was drowned in the same river where he was baptized. Sadder than the first story.

The Artificial Nigger Very arresting introduction. The relationship of the white grandfather to his white grandson is one for the books. Reminded me of the travails between the father and son in an Italian classic movie, The Bicycle. The treachery of the grandfather is mind-boggling similar to St. Peter's denial of Jesus. I wonder how it would affect the child when he grows up. Very moving.

A Late Encounter with the Enemy The funniest. I love reading stories about old men. It reminded me of Balzac's Old Goriot. While reading, I was thinking of my 93-y/o father-in-law who is still alive. Although my father-in-law is not as grumpy and ascerbic and young girl-crazy as the General here, it is always fun to talk to him.

Good Country People A mother and her 23-y/o Ph.D. daughter who had an artificial leg were visited by a 19-y/o man who was supposed to be a nice Christian Bible salesman. He lured the daughter to come with him to a barn and the daughter thought she was in love. She was asked to remove her artificial leg and then the young man revealed his true identity. What a catch.

The Displaced Person Black workers are employed in a farm by a lady landowner. Until one day, a priest arrives with Polish family who left their country because Jews are being prosecuted by Hitler. So, the family will work as farmhands also. The Displaced Person, called DP is the head of the family. "Black or white, they are the same" says the lady landowner who is always worried about money.

6 out of 10 amazing short stories, each of them worthy of 5 stars. I need to read her other books before I die.
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Reading Progress

10/30 page 24
10.0% "1st Story: A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND is funny at first. Then the ending is sad. So sad."
10/30 page 64
25.0% "Now I am getting O'Connor's drift. She is from Deep South and she is very astute in her portrayal of her people in Tennessee and Georgia. This is my first by her and I am enjoying it." 3 comments
02/28 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Esteban (new)

Esteban del Mal Her novels are good, but her short stories are great.


K.D. Absolutely Thanks for telling me, Esteban. I will read "3" soon! :)


Rogério Martins Well... all of Flannery is good. The dark sarcasm. The ascetism. The verb.
R.


K.D. Absolutely Rogério wrote: "Well... all of Flannery is good. The dark sarcasm. The ascetism. The verb.
R."


I agree. She really knows how to tell good stories.


Pablo Just added The Progress of Love to by TBR. Thanks!


K.D. Absolutely Jpablobr wrote: "Just added The Progress of Love to by TBR. Thanks!"

You're welcome, Jpa.


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