Flannery O'Connor is better known for her short stories than for her novels, perhaps because she was a master of this craft. Short stories --- good short stories --- are difficult to write. She took the title for the book (and the story by the same name) from a blues song sung by Bessie Smith.
The title story, "A Good Man Is Hard To Find," concerns a family who sets off on a trip to Florida, only to encounter a pair of murderers along the road. It is a chilling tale, all the more so because O'Connor lets the story build slowly and shows us how the simplest misstep can lead to a disaster beyond all imagining. Humor and tragedy blend seamlessly in this story of a family whose vacation does not end happily ever after.
The balance of the collection is equally entertaining. These stories remind us that the roles we play in our lives are always shifting, and that issues that we try to avoid have a way recurring again and again.
Reviewed by Judith Handschuh on January 22, 2011
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories