Friday, June 22, 2012

Book Review: A Good Man Is Hard to Find

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

Flannery O'Connor ranks among my favorite authors and rereading her collection of short stories A Good Man is Hard to Find was a great pleasure. O'Connor manages to be both profound and shocking with every story. Some of the turns the stories take seem almost cliche now because of how often they are cited and reused. Still, it remains a requirement to study the craft and skill in these stories.

I do not see O'Connor, though, as a Christian writer. Much is made over the moments of grace in her stories. I understand it, but I think they are as common as the epiphanies in Joyce's stories. Each story has a moment where things turn, where a character has an opportunity to change, to react, to accept. These moments of realization and their aftermath are usually what make a story resonate with a reader. We wonder, maybe only subconsciously, if we would have reacted the same. Would we, as the grandmother in the title story, sought some sort of redemption from the man we know is going to kill us? Would we have the same prejudices as Hulga in "Good Country People" that allow her to fall victim to the bible salesman? What persists for the reader are the wrong choices, the opportunities missed. Each character is complicit in his or her fate.

I don't see this as Christian. I might, instead, argue that its existential, It is through one's actions that he or she exists. The decisions these characters make make them who they are and lead them to their fate.

You should know I love these stories. And if you care a lick about the craft of fiction, your copy should be as well worn as mine.

No comments:

Post a Comment