Book Review: A Good Man Is Hard To Find

Posted by Bel. The time is 7.53pm here in Wellington, NZ.

A short story collection makes great summer reading. If you drop off to sleep in a nice patch of sunshine on your bed during an afternoon's reading, it doesn't matter too much, because you were probably only two or three pages into a six or eight page long story anyway.

But I'll tell ya what, Flannery O'Connor's writing will hold your attention and keep you from even thinking of falling asleep. And quite possibly, the darkly drawn characters of her 'Southern Gothic' tales will give you nightmares.

I was so enraptured by the title story of A Good Man Is Hard To Find, that I did that real annoying thing of re-telling it to the next person I came across, trying to quote her chilling sentences word for word, bungling it horribly and no doubt putting the innocent soul off books in general for life.

Not that her stories in the conventional spooky way. The various characters of A Good Man Is Hard To Find are gut-wrenchingly human and their hopes and flaws are what loads each story with an ominous sense of foreboding. Double-crossing is rife, an almost inevitable conclusion. Although the stories seem to be set in the immediately post-WWII era, there is a quality to them which is so reminiscent of the Coen Brothers' films that it is boldly contemporary.

A note on the title: I had the complete wrong idea about what this book was going to be like. I have an immediate connotation of some kind 80s era poster of a topless Fabio with the twisted slogan 'A Hard Man Is Good To Find' emblazoned across. And so I assumed that this book was some kind of romance trollop too. Read the first story of the book to see how the line is actually used and you'll see just how wrong my interpretation was.

A Good Man Is Hard To Find (and Other Stories) by Flannery O'Connor. Highly recommended.
Published in 1955. Set in the South (USA) in the mid 20th C.
#46 from 'The List'