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A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories

4.3 out of 5 stars 168 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0156364652
ISBN-10: 0156364654
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Editorial Reviews

Review

''O'Connor's works, like Maupassant's, are characterized by precision, density, and an almost alarming circumscription. . . In these stories the rural South is, for the first time, viewed by a writer whose orthodoxy matches her talent. The results are revolutionary.'' -- New York Times Book Review

''Much savagery, compassion, farce, art, and truth have gone into these stories. O'Connor's characters are wholeheartedly horrible, and almost better than life. I find it hard to think of a funnier or more frightening writer.'' --Robert Lowell, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

''With a keen eye for the dark side of human nature, an amazing ear for dialogue, and a necessary sense of irony, Flannery O'Connor exposes the underside of life in the rural south of the United States.'' --Holly Smith, 500 Great Books by Women

''I am sure her books will live on and on in American literature.'' --Elizabeth Bishop, Pulitzer Prize winner and poet laureate of the United States, 1949-1950 --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Back Cover

ONE OF THE GREATEST AMERICAN SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS

In 1955, with this short story collection, Flannery O'Connor firmly laid claim to her place as one of the most original and provocative writers of her generation. Steeped in a Southern Gothic tradition that would become synonymous with her name, these stories show O'Connor's unique, grotesque view of life--infused with religious symbolism, haunted by apocalyptic possibility, sustained by the tragic comedy of human behavior, confronted by the necessity of salvation.

Through these classic stories--including "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," "Good Country People," "The Displaced Person," and seven other acclaimed tales--O'Connor earned a permanent place in the hearts of American readers.

"Much savagery, compassion, farce, art, and truth have gone into these stories. O'Connor's characters are wholeheartedly horrible, and almost better than life. I find it hard to think of a funnier or more frightening writer." --Robert Lowell

"In these stories the rural South is, for the first time, viewed by a writer whose orthodoxy matches her talent. The results are revolutionary." --The New York Times Book Review

Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) was born in Savannah, Georgia. She earned her MFA at the University of Iowa, but lived most of her life in the South, where she became an anomaly among post–World War II authors--a Roman Catholic woman whose stated purpose was to reveal the mystery of God's grace in everyday life. Her work--novels, short stories, letters, and criticism--received a number of awards, including the National Book Award.

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Product Details

  • Series: A Harvest/Hbj Book
  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (August 23, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156364654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156364652
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
The ten short stories in this 1955 collection by Flannery O'Connor expose a grotesque underbelly of the Southern mystique that go far beyond their seemingly simple surface plots. Ms. O'Connor has a flare for dialog as well as a primal understanding of the darkness in people's souls. All her characters have a relationship with God and she combines Christian imagery, an apocalyptic vision of life and a strong element of cruelty. And yet, there is a deeply human element that gives me the shivers because it exposes truths I'd rather not see.
I could tell from the very beginning of each story that something ominous was going to happen. I didn't know when, I didn't know how, and I didn't know exactly what it would be. Always, I was surprised. And yet, when I thought of it later, each story could have gone no other way. All of them had a sad or tragic ending, although some were more awful than others. What keeps the narrative exciting though is a way she has of suddenly disappearing the storyline and taking it up in another place, leaving just enough information to spark the imagination. Then, when I think I have it all figured out, things change again.
Ms. O'Connor writes in simple startling sentences. And most of the stories are no more than 20 or 30 pages long. I found it hard to read one story right after the other however. Each one was so thought provoking that, even though I felt a great deal of discomfort, I wanted to stay with each just a little bit longer. That's because they move much too fast and are too intriguing to stop. Later, when the initial shock of the story is over, is the time to work it out philosophically. And it is then that I could appreciate the mastery of her craft.
This is a truly fine book and I unquestionably give it a high recommendation. It is certainly not for everyone however. These stories haunt uncomfortably. But those willing to explore the dark side of human nature in this small work of art will love it.
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Format: Paperback
A family on vacation encounters a cold-blooded gang, a gullible and naive housewife is struck by a mysterious (but hilariously common) "illness," a 104-year-old Civil War veteran is a featured guest at his 62-year-old daughter's high school graduation--each of O'Connor's stories portray characters in improbable, bizarre, and ultimately harrowing situations. These tales are weird, surprising, tense, comical, and often unforgettable--but what exactly do they all mean?

O'Connor was often frustrated by the sense that readers and reviewers misunderstood both the intents and the themes of her stories. In her first letter to a fan from Atlanta who became a frequent correspondent, she complained that "she was mighty tired of reading reviews that call 'A Good Man' brutal and sarcastic" and that "when I see these stories described as horror stories I am always amused because the reviewer has hold of the wrong horror."

I think she sells herself short with this assessment, however. Her stories are brutal, they certainly can be sarcastic--and the fact that readers confuse the horror is confirmation of the ambiguous and harrowing (and, yes, Gothic) underworld her characters inhabit. The reason her stories are classics of the form--and the ten stories in this collection are among the best I've ever read--is not only because they are creepy and grotesque, or because she is the master of the ominous set-up and the unexpected ending, but also because after you've found out what happened you'll probably lie awake wondering why it happened.

"Christian realism" was how O'Connor described her spiritual stance; "I write the way I do because (not though) I am a Catholic. . . . I am a Catholic peculiarly possessed of the modern consciousness.
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Format: Paperback
The ten short stories in this collection are definitely masterpieces. Neither too long or too short, the stories suggest whole worlds, entire lives (and deaths) with just the right number of verbal brushstrokes. Never preachy or self-righteous, they are yet infused with a deep, complex spirituality that seems to consist of an eccentric and compelling hybrid of Roman Catholicism's quiet mysticism and Southern Protestantism's revivalism and rigor. That said, this is not "chicken soup for the soul"...pretty much every story has a dark edge, and in most of them the author gets you with this impending sense of dread that things are going to go to heck in a hand basket, the only question is how (this makes the book awfully hard to put down, by the way). And she has an incredible talent of capturing the rhythms and characteristic expressions of Southern English without too much Mark Twain twang. In short, this is hands down a classic of American literature.
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If you are a fan of the grotesque and morbidly humorous, Flannery O'Connor is your girl! I cannot seem to get enough of this woman, and knowing that she was a devout Roman Catholic woman writing around the time of the 50's is even more rewarding considering she was far from the "June Cleaver" type. As a matter of fact, her short stories are still shocking today, which is really saying something. It is not hard to believe that she was influenced both by the Bible AND the Greek tragedies.
Furthermore, the fact that she was sick with lupus and confined to crutches (therefore having to live with her mother) explains much of her sarcasm in stories like "Good Country People" and "The Life You Save May Be Your Own."
It is sad to think of what serious readers missed out on because of her early death (died at age 39 of lupus) but let me tell you something, if you have a thing for black comedy, O'Connor cannot be topped. You will literally find yourself laughing one minute and covering your mouth with a gasp in the next. She is FANTASTIC!! This is the type of collection you can truly enjoy all the way through.
"A Good Man is Hard to Find," "The Life You Save Might Be Your Own," and "Good Country People" are three of the best short stories ever written by man or woman. Buy this book!!
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