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A Good Man Is Hard To Find

portrait of Flannery O'Connor

portrait of Flannery O'Connor

Reading a short story that is widely recognized as an American classic is always a challenge. Such was the case when I picked up the complete stories of Flannery O’Connor at a local SC library and tackled several of her stories. The fact that as I read I am able to look out the window and see a forest filled with magnolias and moss-draped live oaks may or may not have affected my literary opinion.

Nonetheless, my small sampling of one of the bastions of Southern Gothic, turned out to be quite revealing. My first impression was that the Georgia author lives up to her reputation very well, even though the possibility exists that I am at least a little biased in my assessment. Though not a native southerner, I have visited the region since before I can remember due to a complex web of family ties that even touches on the state of Georgia.

Flannery O’Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1925 and died in 1964 before she even turned 40. Her life ended early do to a disabling disease called lupus. Her literary legacy included several novels and many short stories, including “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”. She is considered to be one of the cornerstones of Southern Gothic and also one of the nation’s most admired short story writers.

Southern Gothic can be defined as a style of writing that seldom celebrates the antebellum South. Instead, this popular style of writing uses irony, along with unusual events and even the supernatural to drive the story. Practitioners of this craft begin with F. Scott Fitzgerald and runs up to the present, including such luminaries as Anne Rice and Harper Lee. The body of works attributed to the genre is substantial and many writers today consider themselves part of the group.

Sorrel Weed House in Savannah, Georgia.

Sorrel Weed House in Savannah, Georgia.

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