I have a gift for you. One of Flannery O’Connor’s more famous short stories was A Good Man is Hard to Find, written in 1953. It’s about a selfish woman – a grandmother – who finds redemption at the hands of a killer, known at The Misfit, just at the point where he shoots her in the chest. Like most of O’Connor’s writings, there is a moral magnitude to the message, somewhere within the violence. It’s a vivid read.
My favorite line in the story was of course, this one:
“She would of been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”
Oh yes, that gift I mentioned earlier? It’s a 1959 audio mp3 of Flannery O’Connor herself reading A Good Man is Hard to Find. Click on this LINK to go to the site.
In April of 1959–five years before her death at the age of 39 from lupus–O’Connor ventured away from her secluded family farm in Milledgeville, Georgia, to give a reading at Vanderbilt University. It gave me goosebumps to hear her voice telling the story of a family’s trip that ends in disaster and redemption.
Thank you to the OPEN CULTURE website, where I found this nugget. I suggest you check them out, because they have such interesting stuff, like William Faulkner reading his Nobel Prize speech, or a video clip of Louis Armstrong on The Johnny Cash Show (yes, Johnny Cash hosted a musical variety show from 1969 to 1971!)
And to close out, here are some quotes from Flannery O’Connor:
- I am a writer because writing is the thing I do best.
- All my stories are about the action of grace on a character who is not very willing to support it, but most people think of these stories as hard, hopeless and brutal.
- I find that most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one.
- When a book leaves your hands, it belongs to God. He may use it to save a few souls or to try a few others, but I think that for the writer to worry is to take over God’s business
- The beginning of human knowledge is through the senses, and the fiction writer begins where human perception begins. He appeals through the senses, and you cannot appeal to the senses with abstractions.