Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Good Man Is Hard to Find

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other StoriesA Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Good Man is Hard to Find: A family strikes out on a road trip to Florida, knowing that an escaped convict is on the loose...

What a kick ass tale to open the collection. Flannery O'Connor had to be an influence of sorts on Jim Thompson, as this reads a lot like a condensed version of one of his stories. "She would have been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

The River: An odd little boy is taken to a river to be Baptised by a fire and brimstone preacher. Bleakness ensues.

"He could hear broken piece of the sun knocking on the water."

The Life You Save May Be Your Own: A one armed drifter takes up with an old woman and her deaf maiden daughter. Flannery O'Connor sure writes some grim tales.

A Stroke of Good Fortune: Ruby has some difficulty climbing the stairs to the apartment she shares with her husband, Bill Hill, and her brother Rufus, all the while thinking about what the fortune teller said.

"Bill Hill takes care of that!"

A Temple of the Holy Ghost: A child's annoying second cousins come from the convent to attend the fair.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I missed the point of this one. It was a little different from the previous ones since no one died.

The Artificial Nigger: Mr. Heard takes his grandson Nelson to the big city and they encounter African Americans.

I glossed over a lot of this. It's a tale of some country folk coming to the big city and it nicely illustrates why we rural Americans get a bad name. It also uses the N-word more times per page than anything I've read before, a product of the time.

A Circle in the Fire: Three troublesome boys show up at an old woman's farm. What will happen when they refuse to leave?

This one had some religious overtones and was fairly creepy.

A Late Encounter with the Enemy : Will Sally Poker's 104 year old grandfather, General Sash, die before her graduation?

I loved this one.

Good Country People: A young man shows up at Mrs. Hopewell's house selling bibles and takes a shine to her daughter, Joy.

This was another great story that reminded me of a Jim Thompson, Savage Night.

The Displaced Person: A priest hires a displaced person to work on Mrs. McIntyre's farm. How will her existing hands take it when he's more capable than them?

The ending of this one really drives home my point that it's very likely that Jim Thompson was a Flannery O'Connor fan.

A Good Man is Hard to Find is a powerful collection of tales by an overlooked mistress of the form. Four out of five stars.

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