February, 2015: A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor

(Book #58) Because our club has eleven members and there are twelve months to host, one of us hosts twice a year in a rotating fashion. Chris hosted twice in 2015, and so I pulled two sets of choices from her list. In February we read her choice A Good Man is Hard to Find  by Flannery O’Connor. All of the girls giggled when I suggested the evil twin title: A Hard Man is Good to Find.

The evening started with a delicious pimento spread with crackers/bread and the main course was an amazing low country boil — shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn on the cob. Chris served it with a delicious salad and rolls and for dessert we were treated to a pecan caramel cheesecake.

Our reactions to the short stories were mixed as we’ve come to expect with the short story selections. Some felt that the characteristic twist at the conclusion of her stories made them depressing or similar to a horror story in effect. Chris responded that Flannery would have been appalled to hear a critique of “horror story” being applied to her writing because she thought of her stories as explorations of morality. Recognizing that there is almost certainly a quirky conclusion, I just love the writing that takes me there. Here are some of my favorite bits:
“The air was so quiet he could hear the broken pieces of the sun knocking in the water.”
“She had expected Rufus to have turned out into somebody with some get in him.”
“Then one morning, without getting out of bed, she died and left Mr. Head with sole care of the year-old child.”
“Living had got to be such a habit with him that he couldn’t conceive of any other condition.”
“This them was not anybody in particular. It was just all the upstarts who had turned the world on its head and unsettled the ways of decent living.”

When others comment that her conclusions are depressing, I think of her quote:  “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” But then I can handle truckloads of uncomfortable depiction if there is any ray of hope. My sister Susanne still chastises me for thinking she would ever like the movie Slumdog Millionaire because “it is so depressing” while I think of it as one of the most uplifting movies out there!