Books on the Nightstand discussion

156 views
Project Short Story 2013 > March Read Along: A Good Man is Hard to Find

Comments Showing 1-31 of 31 (31 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

(Ann, I hope you don't mind me starting this thread).

This is the first Flannery O'Connor story I've read and .... wow. At the beginning I thought the story would go one way, but then it went in a completely different direction.

Thank you, Ann, for the motivation to pull her Complete Stories (library sale find) off of my shelf.


message 2: by Ann (new)

Ann (akingman) | 2097 comments Mod
Suzanne, thrilled that you started the discussion! Thanks.


message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy | 463 comments Yes - everyone please discuss the story. I have not "gotten" the first two months' stories, so I am going to try waiting to read this one until after the discussion tells me what I should be "getting"!


message 4: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ I used to teach this story and my kids were knocked over with the ending. O'Connor is one of my favorite short story authors. Now I should seek more out.


message 5: by P. (new)

P.  Flaherty Pagan | 19 comments This is one of my favorite stories - full stop. Every word in the story is precisely placed so that the ending is both a terrible surprise and the only path that you can imagine the story following. The grandmother is a great character. I also recommend her stories "Everything That Rises Must Converge" and "The Geranium."


message 6: by Kendra (new)

Kendra (KendraP) | 15 comments I remember this story from college, so I wasn't surprised by the ending this time. It still packs a wallop, I still love the preciseness of the writing!


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

For those who have read a lot of Flannery O'Connor, is this story typical of her style?


message 8: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ This is very typical of her style. Get sense of humor is dark.


message 9: by Amy (new)

Amy | 463 comments So I broke down and read it. Is it supposed to be a horror story? I mean I enjoyed it, and I understood the plot (unlike last month), but is there any deeper meaning I am missing?


message 10: by Ann (new)

Ann (akingman) | 2097 comments Mod
I think it's not so much the deeper meaning as analyzing why certain characters acted the way they did. Much has been written about this story and much of it mentions Flannery O'Connor's themes of "grace." O'Connor was a deeply religious woman, from what I've read, and some of it comes out here.

It's this line near the end that got me: "She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life." -- that it was only when faced with death that the grandmother seemed human.


message 11: by Amy (new)

Amy | 463 comments Yay, I picked up on some of that! I tried to read this one slowly, as last month there was discussion that one can't read through short stories quickly. If I had been reading it on a dark and stormy night I would have been terrified!!


message 12: by Karin (new)

Karin | 74 comments I guess I'm meant to read this story: 1) One of the characters in the novel I'm currently reading is named Flannery, named for O'Connor & 2) shelving some books this afternoon I realized I own a copy of "A Good Man....& Other Stories". I had no idea! Want to finish my novel tonight but will bring the story to work to read at lunch one day this week.


message 13: by Linda (new)

Linda | 2762 comments Mod
Karin wrote: "I guess I'm meant to read this story: 1) One of the characters in the novel I'm currently reading is named Flannery, named for O'Connor & 2) shelving some books this afternoon I realized I own a co..."

Karin, I've been logging books so I know what I have and have been surprised how many short story collections I own. (Also the titles of some of the books I own, "I knew I wanted to read that for some reason!")


message 14: by Louise (last edited Mar 25, 2013 01:52AM) (new)

Louise | 279 comments Hmm the ending - the scene between the misfit and the grandmother - didn't make any sense to me?
(and how are you not an evil man when you kill a baby?)
I couldn't help noticing, that the parents never put their kids in place - when they're rude to practically everyone they meet and kick the car seats - the grandmother seems to be the only one caring how they behave?


message 15: by Karin (new)

Karin | 74 comments I just don't see what makes this story so "head & shoulders above all others" that it's become a classic & must read. The end didn't surprise me at all. it seemed so silly.


message 16: by Karin (new)

Karin | 74 comments Based on my "eh" reaction to AGMIHTF, do you guys think I should keep reading the others in the collection? Or am I better off exploring another writer?


message 17: by Katie (new)

Katie | 91 comments This is my first Flannery O'Connor and I had a hard time with it. I read it through once, listened to the audio of O'Connor reading it, which was wonderful for getting the Southern flavor and rhythm of the story, and then read it again. Several things struck me: 1. I have no religious background so I know I'm missing some of the cues of the story that give it its power. So I had a hard time understanding the nuances of the conversation between the grandmother and the Misfit. 2. I was shocked by the end, to me it came out of the blue, even though I knew going in that O'Connor wrote dark stories. 3. What turned the Misfit into a criminal? Why did he feel life was so out of balance. Did the Misfit really murder his father or was he actually imprisoned for something less heinous and life had just been cruel and unfair to him? Is this what all that discussion about Jesus throwing things out of balance meant? That Jesus was crucified, i.e. punished, even though he hadn't done anything wrong? That the punishment was always greater than the crime? 3. A humorous aside: How ironic that curiosity --the grandmother's and children's, to see the house--killed everyone BUT the cat. ;0 4. Throughout the story the grandmother was fixated on good men, yet it was actually she, showing that one tender moment reaching out in pity to the Misfit rather than thinking about herself that made her a good woman, ultimately unfairly sealing her fate too. This in some sense proved the Misfit's point, no?


message 18: by Louise (new)

Louise | 279 comments Good points Katie, I've read two more O'Connner stories now, I think her religious themes/point of view probably makes her a little inaccessible to me...


message 19: by Ann (new)

Ann (akingman) | 2097 comments Mod
Katie, your thoughts are really perceptive (I didn't pick up on the 'curiosity killed everyone but the cat' thing.

Forgive me if I'm repeating myself, but the thing that struck me when I read this story was that it was published in 1953. And "she went there". She took the story to a dark and brutal end that seems, to my mind, way out of line for a Southern woman in the 1950s.


message 20: by Amy (new)

Amy | 463 comments Karin wrote: "Based on my "eh" reaction to AGMIHTF, do you guys think I should keep reading the others in the collection? Or am I better off exploring another writer?"

I am not a short story lover or an expert, but I enjoyed a couple of the other stories more than this one, especially the last one.


message 21: by Katie (new)

Katie | 91 comments Ann, yes that must have been true! Very gutsy and out of character for a female southern author.

Although I didn't love this story when I read it last night, I keep thinking about it. So think it is mark of a masterful story. Yesterday I gave it 3 stars, today I give it 5! Several more thoughts struck me 1) The juxtaposition of the very ordinariness of everyday family trip turning into horror. How the concept of Boogie Man, often used to scare children into doing something they don't want to do & in this case used as a ploy by the grandmother to try and persuade son to take them to Tennessee instead of Florida, turn out to have had horrible validity. 2) Interesting choice of O'Connor's to refer to the main character in a non specific way as "the" grandmother. We never know her name, even though we know the names of all the others. And yet she is the one the story is really about. The grandmother is also a Misfit, out of sync with her time. She clings to her notion of what it means to be a lady ("In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on a highway would know at once that she was a lady" from the way she was dressed) and "good men", gentlemen callers and plantations. (shout out to Gone with the Wind ha!ha!) And yet that time has clearly passed by (note how ungenteel her own family is and Red Sam & his wife). ..... Those notions and behavior patterns which should have protected her, end up not.


message 22: by Karin (new)

Karin | 74 comments I just started Olive Kitteridge (sp?) last night so O'Connor will go back to the shelves for a while!


message 23: by Katie (new)

Katie | 91 comments Karin wrote: "I just started Olive Kitteridge (sp?) last night so O'Connor will go back to the shelves for a while!"

I'll be interested in what you think. I read O.K. for book group a few years ago and everyone loved it except for me. Now I don't really remember why (just couldn't get into it...) but think with my new appreciation and interest in short stories (I never really liked them before) brought about by Ann's Short Story Project I've been thinking I should give it another go.


message 24: by Amy (new)

Amy | 463 comments Katie wrote: "I'll be interested in what you think. I read O.K. for book group a few years ago and everyone loved it except for me...."

I too read Olive Kitteridge for book group a couple of years ago, but I was definitely not the only one that didn't care for it. The reason I didn't like it was that the stories are were very depressing. It really made me dread getting any older. I seem to remember that was the general consensus too.


message 25: by Karin (new)

Karin | 74 comments This is my 2nd attempt at Olive K. I'm further along this time than last. It seems so depressing and hopeless but I'm trying to keep with it by focusing more on the use of language in the stories, rather than the story of the story. Does that make any sense? I have had a bad dream or nightmare every night since starting it (the night I read the one where the waitress goes over the cliff, my partner had to wake me up because I was screaming in my sleep). I didn't think I cared that much about the stories but clearly the book is affecting me on a deep level, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.


message 26: by Katie (new)

Katie | 91 comments Karin wrote: "This is my 2nd attempt at Olive K. I'm further along this time than last. It seems so depressing and hopeless but I'm trying to keep with it by focusing more on the use of language in the stories..."

Wow! Hope you have something positive, entertaining and funny on your bookstand TBR next.


message 27: by Libby (new)

Libby (libbyw) | 131 comments Good choice, Ann. I love this story and when the grandmother says, " you're one of my babies" to the Misfit, she is recognizing their common humanity, making her a good women when facing death, therefore, her moment of grace.


message 28: by Pete (new)

Pete Morin | 2 comments Hi folks - I haven't been active in this group, but I just happened to noodle around and ran across this discussion.

I read everything Flannery O'Connor wrote, during an independent study project as a lit major at Univ of Vermont in 1977. Someone asked earlier, "what's so special about this?" and the answer DEFINITELY is what Ann said - it's not just what she wrote, it's WHEN SHE WROTE IT.

In another life, I am a guitar player. I constantly listen to "classic" guitar leads from the 50's-70's and to my ear today, they sound amateurish, basic. At that time, they were groundbreaking.

(FWIW, this is not my favorite O'Connor story - that would be Good Country People.)

Cheers!


message 29: by Doreen (new)

Doreen Several years ago I took a senior extension class on the stories of Flannery O'Connor. we read several stories and discussed them each week. At a certain point, a woman in her elderly 70's, stated that she could not understand why anyone would want to read about such disgusting people. From the back of the class came a loud reply.... "....because these characters give us insight into our true selves." ....and I think this is the case in so many of the stories...the one that makes me squirm a lot is "Everything That Rises Must Converge".....I may not say the things that the son Julian says....but I have thought them...c'es't moi......O'Connor was just such a brilliant observer of the human condition.


message 30: by Jana (new)

Jana (jazziegirl2010) | 309 comments I'm a big O'Connor fan. I like dark. I am the product of a very religious upbringing. It didn't stick, but it is always there and of particular interest. Almost all of her stories deal with religion, race and/or class. Often with a brutal punch and a healthy dose of creepy.

I have this collection on audible, but haven't read any stories except A Good Man, and that was awhile ago. I need to re-listen now that I've read up on the comments above (thank you especially Katie for the insights).

As others have said, I also highly recommend Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor On audible it is absolutely amazing.


message 31: by Junek (new)

Junek | 44 comments I also love Flannery O'Connor's short stories, I have quite a collection.
The mother and son in Flannery's "Everything That Rises.." are a delight.. It does deserve a reread from me.

I have put aside for to-day's reread, in my sunny spot, "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" again I love to read of older eccentric people, the grandma in this is a gem.

I have only just discovered this site, and it has sparked me on to read more of my mighty collection of short stories!! I would class myself an addict re buying short stories. I don't always read them thru, however I know that they are there.

BTW I acquired a copy some time ago from Amazon "Flannery O'Connor The Complete Stories" 31 stories in all and 550 pages!!


back to top