Author: Flannery O'Connor
Publication Year: 1977 (reprint) 1955 (originally)
Setting: Southern US states
Source: personal collection
Date Completed: November/2012
Rating: 4.5/5Recommend: yes
From a reader who isn't a huge fan of short stories, I must say that Flannery O'Conner's, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories is a wonderful collection that I really enjoyed a lot. O'Connor was an incredibly talented Southern writer whose life ended much too early. She died in 1964 at the age of 39 of Lupus.
In this collection, each story for the most part takes place in the 1940s and 50s, and although the reader is not always sure of the locale, it seems clear that most stories seem to have a rural south setting, as she is know for her Southern Gothic fiction. Most of her stories are dark, often tragic, but there always seems to be humor infused, and each story has at least one broken or quirky characters that makes the story memorable. Some stories have religious undertones or characters struggling with faith in times of crisis.
The title story (my favorite) featured a grandmother, who sees herself as a prim and proper lady. She's also an opinionated chatterbox who tells her family (and others) which she thinks about everything, but that doesn't mean she's a clear thinker and is able to always make good decisions. In this story, her son wants to take the family to Florida on vacation, but the grandmother urges them to consider Tennessee instead, as an escaped convict labeled "The Misfit" has escaped from prison and is one the loose, and according to the grandmothers criminals tend to head to Florida. Her son does not take her advice and the family (grandmother included) set out for a road trip to Florida -- a road trip that is a riot to read about, but one that ends badly.
The River, was another story that was tragic, yet so well done - a five year old boy, with irresponsible partying parents, who is often left alone. He is a bit too trusting for his own good.
Good Country People was another one I enjoyed - what happens when a lonely lady with a fake leg is visited by a conniving, traveling Bible salesman? Let your imagination run wild, or better yet, read it for yourself and enjoy this wild ride.
Most of the stories range from 20-30 pages, and honestly, if you've been like me and avoided short story collections far too long, this would be an excellent book to start with to make you ease back in an see what you've been missing. Other stories in this collection in addition to the (3) I mentioned are: The Life You Save May Be Your Own, (another favorite) A Stroke of Good Fortune, (another favorite) A Temple of the Holy Ghost, The Artificial Nigger, A Circle in the Fire, A Late Encounter with the Enemy and The Displaced Person (another favorite).
I definitely plan to read more of Flannery O'Connor's work in 2013.