When the profane and the beautiful collide, you get a Flannery O’Connor story. When human depravity is depicted in all it’s “glory”, you get another one. And then if you read real closely and carefully, you find a small flicker of hope, of grace, of mercy, of redemption – but then you realize you found it in a story with a racial slur in the title.
I finished reading O’Connor’s short story collection A Good Man Is Hard To Find and Other Stories. I posted about the first four here. As a whole, I would say that her stories took my breath away, but it’s really more like they knocked the wind out of me. I couldn’t help but laugh when Joy (she renamed herself Hulga), the female atheist with a Ph.D in philosophy and a wooden leg, meets up with a Bible salesman. I wasn’t sure who would swindle who, but I wasn’t counting on what actually happened. In another story, an ancient Civil War veteran appears at a movie premier in Atlanta. O’Connor never reveals the movie, but I did the math and it could very well have been the premier of “Gone With The Wind”. At another point, boys who could have been so innocent infest a farmhouse like cockroaches while a hired hand simply states “You can’t do a thing about it.”
After I finished it, I realized the collection ends in much the same way it began. Whether it’s The Misfit or The Displaced Person, everyone in O’Connor’s stories seems to be a little (or a lot) out of sync. Every once in a while, Jesus comes along and “throws everything out of balance”.