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A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories…

A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories (1955)

by Flannery O'Connor

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Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
I had to read this one when I was in undergrad for a lit class that looked at the history of publishing (which in itself was very interesting). The history of this series of stories is more interesting than this book itself, in my opinion. More of a perspective of the times but not a book I'd recommend for pleasure reading. ( )
  justagirlwithabook | Aug 1, 2018 |
Well, this book was something very new to me - I can't say that I've read much Southern Gothic Horror before.

I picked up this book after it was mentioned in [a:Francine Prose|12180|Francine Prose|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1249678588p2/12180.jpg]'s book [b:Reading Like a Writer|39934|Reading Like a Writer A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them|Francine Prose|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1184180564s/39934.jpg|1435619]. She mentioned in it the title story, and used it as an example of a very well constructed plot. To be honest, just about every single story in this collection was equally well plotted - once one gets past the sensibilities of the time in which it was written, one gets a feeling that any of the stories could have happened yesterday.

The stories, I found to be downright disturbing. [a:Flannery O'Conner] is a master of creating a sense of unease through small actions. The serial killer isn't a cackling maniac, but rather a very polite, almost bashful figure. The people who destroy your life could be anything from a smiling stranger, to the almost simple-minded hired help. The familiar has a way of turning ugly that is truly astonishing.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone. The lack of a five star rating is coming more from my penchant for supernatural horror than anything else. That, and also this book genuinely disturbed me and I'm just a tad bit ashamed about that. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Really strong stories with a fantastic sense of rural South. I'll come back to these when I'm in the mood for something darker. ( )
  pammab | Apr 14, 2018 |
I read the first short story in this collection by Flannery O'Connor and sat back, astonished. If you haven't read A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories, grab a copy right now and read the title story. You'll know then exactly where you stand with O'Connor's stories after that first one has slammed into you like a hammer to the back of the head.

In A Good Man is Hard to Find, a family prepares for and sets off for a vacation in Florida. Even Grandma, who has much to say about how much better it would be to visit family in east Tennessee and how the trip might be dangerous, what with escaped felons and other perils, comes along to narrate the ride. And off they go, stopping at bbq joints for lunch and staring at the sights outside the car windows. It begins as one sort of story and ends as quite another and it's one of the most brilliant things I've ever read.

Each story is finely honed and reads as surprisingly contemporary, for all it's written about a rural South that is long gone. O'Connor is insightful and cutting and unafraid to allow the worst to happen. There is a dark comedy underlying her work and a deep understanding of people, albeit a somewhat grim one. People in this collection die. They're drowned, or shot, or simple run over. They look into someone else's eyes and see how badly they've misjudged things. They are callous and cruel and lonely and disillusioned. Their hopes are inevitably dashed, usually because of their own flaws. There's so much packed into each of these tightly written stories that each feels like an entire world. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Jan 29, 2018 |
A Good Man is Hard to Find is the first short story collection by Flannery O’Conner. O’Conner became known for her literary contribution to the Southern Gothic genre, and her unusual brand of Christian allegory that incorporated a predominance of “grotesque” characters. A major theme throughout the majority of the works in this collection focus on redemption and the achievement of religious or spiritual “grace” through hardship and violence. The majority of O’Conner’s characters are portrayed as both morally and physically ugly, and very few – if any – are shown in a positive light. This is especially true of women and children, who tend to fare the worst in O’Conner’s fiction. O’Conner does not typically provide characters for the reader to empathize with or “root for,” as her main focus is illustrating the spiritual failings of individuals (and sometimes society as a whole) through the open display of these severe character flaws, often personifying them externally as physical defects (ugliness) or abnormalities (missing limbs).

The collection gets its name from the first short story, and it is easy to see why it was chosen to represent (in name) this body of work. A Good Man is Hard to Find is easily one of the collection’s strongest works, following a grandmother and her family’s run-in with an escaped convict self-dubbed The Misfit. The brutality of the story’s gradual conclusion is emotionally jarring (despite its understated delivery) and threatens to stay with the reader permanently. Other stories in the collection that match the intensity and/or excellence of this piece include The River, about a neglected child’s encounter with religion, as well as The Life You Save May Be Your Own and Good Country People, both of which feature missing limbs, traveling con artists, the potential of redemption. Good Country People also includes the fall of a self-proclaimed intellectual, another of O’Conner’s favorite targets.

The weakest work of the collection is easily A Temple of the Holy Ghost, which – much like the title itself – abandons O’Conner’s normal allegorical subtext early on and instead launches into bald-faced proselytizing, eschewing the more calculated symbolism and metaphor for which O’Conner is well more known. The Artificial Nigger is almost guilty of the same, as the narrator goes to great lengths to explain the spiritual transformation of the characters at the end, but overall it isn’t enough to ruin the story of a Grandfather and Grandson’s eventful trip into “the city.”

A stroke of Good Fortune, A Circle in the Fire, and A Late Encounter with the Enemy, while not at the best of the bunch, are still solid entries that easily display O’Conner’s literary talents, and support her ongoing theme of grotesque characters, while exploring subject matter slightly removed from spiritual grace, including the arrogance of the individual’s perceived control over body (A Stroke of Good Fortune), personal history (A Late Encounter with the Enemy),, nature, and even other people (A Circle in the Fire).

Personally, the piece in O’Conner’s collection that I struggled the most with is The Displaced Person. It is an impressive short story in three parts that tackles a multitude of subjects, among them racism, xenophobia, morality, patriotism, control, pride, sloth, and yes, redemption. The story follows a widowed farm owner who takes in an immigrant family from Poland as a working tenant at the bequest of a local priest. All of O’Connor’s trademark elements are present, with all of the major characters driven by character flaws that prevent them from seeing the hypocrisy or illogic in their decision making and world view. However, O’Conner’s handling of the immigrant farm hand, Mr. Guizac, is enough of a departure from O’Conner’s norm to - at the very least – raise some questions.

Throughout the other works in this collection, there are rarely any true “innocents” on hand, and even those few characters that could be perceived as innocent, such as young Harry Ashfield in The River, still display character flaws as well as a need or desire for redemption. Mr. Gulzac, however, is never demonstrated to have any outward corruption or deficiencies. Any “flaws” ascribed to Mr. Gulzac are done so through the biased filters of the other characters, and are obviously done so erroneously out of xenophobia, jealousy, fear, or false morality. This is at least partly due to the fact that, unlike the vast majority of major characters in O’Conner’s stories, the narrator never describes any of Mr. Gulzac’s actions from his point of view. Practically all other characters are given at least a brief POV by the narrator, or at the very least have some personal backstory presented as context, but Mr. Gulzac’s own perspective is never truly presented by the narrator. Whenever we see Mr. Gulzac, it is through the eyes of another character, or through the straight-forward impersonal descriptions of the narrator. It is almost as if O’Connor (intentionally or otherwise) makes the geographically displaced Mr. Gulzac a displaced entity in the story, somehow not even belonging in the narrative itself. This emotional distance from the reader mirrors the distance that separates him from other characters, but without the warped prism of bias and prejudice that O’Conner’s other characters exhibit, this distance lends Mr. Gulzac a perception of innocence by omission; other characters reveal their flawed logic and morality through the narrator, but all we are shown of Mr. Gulzac is the hard work and competency that draws the ire and envy of others.

This distance from Mr. Gulzac in the story highlights my other problem with The Displaced Person, the story’s ending. O’Conner’s other stories tend to end after the climactic or transformative action occurs, with the redemption or ultimate results left open and undetermined (The River might be the only other exception to this, depending on your own interpretation). The Displaced Person, however, takes the reader beyond the tragic climax of the ending and offers an uncharacteristic denouement that delivers a level of closure. It almost feels as if O’Connor feels compelled to offer up some semblance of justice – a rarity in the O’Connor universe – for the treatment of that rarest of all O’Connor character, the innocent.

Of course, these are not major faults in The Displaced Man as they are perceived variations of the collected works, and with the possible exception of A Temple of the Holy Ghost, every story in this collection is powerful enough to stand on its own. If you are unfamiliar with the Southern Gothic genre, this collection of stories is an excellent place to start. ( )
2 vote smichaelwilson | Jan 10, 2018 |
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For Sally and Robert Fitzgerald
First words
The grandmother didn't want to go to Florida.
She would have been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
This is the book that established Flannery O'Connor as a master of the short story and one of the most original and provocative writers to emerge from the South. Her apocalyptic vision of life is expressed through grotesque, often comic, situations in which the principal character faces a problem of salvation: the grandmother, in the title story, confronting the murderous Misfit; a neglected four-year-old boy looking for the Kingdom of Christ in the fast-flowing waters of the river; General Sash, about to meet the final enemy.
"The Displaced Person," the story of an outsider who destroys the balance of life between blacks and whites on a small Southern farm, has been adapted into a powerful drama for television.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156364654, Paperback)


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.

"Much savagery, compassion, farce, art, and truth have gone into these stories. O'Connor's characters are wholeheartedly horrible, and almost better than life. I find it hard to think of a funnier or more frightening writer." -- Robert Lowell

"In these stories the rural South is, for the first time, viewed by a writer who orthodoxy matches her talent. The results are revolutionary." -- The New York Times Book Review

Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) was born in Savannah, Georgia. She earned her M.F.A. at the University of Iowa, but lived most of her life in the South, where she became an anomaly among post-World War II authors-- a Roman Catholic woman whose stated purpose was to reveal the mystery of God's grace in everyday life. Her work-- novels, short stories, letters, and criticism-- received a number of awards, including the National Book Award.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:20 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The collection that established OConnors reputation as one of the american masters of the short story. The volume contains the celebrated title story, a tale of the murderous fugitive The Misfit, as well as zThe Displaced Persony and eight other stories.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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