Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories

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

Overall I wasn't crazy about any of these stories. They were very well written, there is no doubt in my mind that O'Connor was incredibly skilled as a writer, but the overall view of the world is so bleak and the characters are generally so unsympathetic that I found the book hard to read. There is a simmering unease in all theses stories that made me uncomfortable as I read them. Given O'Connor's skill as a writer I have to assume that was her intention.

Here are thoughts on each of the stories (made as I finished each of them):
  • good man -- disturbing tale of murder, the sense of impending doom and small choices that lead the wrong way is overwhelming through the whole thing
  • the river -- the direction this one took surprised me, I expected what was going to happen, but not how it ended up happening
  • life you save -- this was a very depressing story and I didn't like any of the characters, even the one I felt sorry for
  • good fortune -- at least no one dies in this one, but it still isn't what you could call a happy story
  • temple -- I liked this one, nothing really happened--it is all the thoughts of a girl whose dumb 2nd cousins come to visit, but I liked the voice and the way she looked at things
  • artificial -- I thought this one was very well done; the way the teacher ends up learning a lesson was skillfully told
  • circle in the fire -- I didn't care for this story, it didn't seem to go anywhere and none of the characters seemed like someone I could (or would want to) identify with
  • Late encounter -- not a favorite, in the minds of a confederate vet and his granddaughter. Like circle, I didn't find either character sympathetic.
  • good country people -- "All day Joy sat on her neck in a deep chair, reading. Sometimes she went for walks but she didn't like dogs or cats or birds or flowers or nature or nice young men. She looked at nice young men as if she could smell their stupidity." (p.176) The cumulative effect of these stories is bringing me to the conclusion that people are no damn good. I wouldn't have expected it from O'Connor based on what I know of her life.
  • displaced persons -- peacocks and Catholic priests finally put in an appearance, not how I expected the story to turn out.
Several years ago I read  The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'ConnorThe Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor which I really enjoyed. This book made me wish people wrote letters. O'Connor was very opinionated and thought about things a great deal, especially religion. Her mother seemed like a very impressive woman. Her letters were quite entertaining and painted a picture of a fascinating woman living (because of health issues) in a very limited portion of the world.

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