Saturday, August 16, 2014

Review: A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories
A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O'Connor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this collection of odd short stories. I was, unfortunately, looking for Catholic-themed fiction, which was why O'Connor was on my to-be-read pile. Sadly, I fall into the camp of readers who do not see the Catholicism displayed (either textually or sub-textually) in any of the stories.

As an author whose fiction promotes the New Evangelization of the Church, along with central themes of St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body, I question O'Connor's methodology of choosing to show readers what some ignorant characters think the Catholic Church is about. I refer here to the last story in the collection: "The Displaced Person". Through my fiction, I prefer to explicitly show the doctrines of the Church. I believe that the message is more clearly presented that way.

O'Connor's "Catholicism" seems to be of the type Good vs Evil. Well, yes, that is a theme covered in the Catholic Faith, but it is also a theme that can be found in every good piece of literary fiction (and non-fiction, if we include the Bible and many other books).

When questioned about her fiction, O'Connor reportedly said that since she was a Catholic, she could write no other way. Just because one is a Catholic does not mean that everything one writes has Catholic overtones.

While I'm at it, I might as well say that the sentiments expressed (along with the southern dialect) distracted my reading. And this is coming from someone who absolutely loves William Styron's prose! We are only sixty years removed from most of these stories, and I think their voice is already dated.

These stories are definitely worth a read, however. They are interesting, and I guarantee you will never meet such a collection of bizarre characters in any other anthology.

My quest for entertaining Catholic fiction continues...


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