Really, one of the first stories that rattled my bones, with its languorous tone, incongruous against the abject violence within. This story sparked an exploration of Sothern gothic literature and inspired my own MA dissertation. Flannery O’Connor’s short story ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’ is a wonderful example of how Southern Gothic can contain both dark humour and a bleak and shocking theme.
A prisoner, ‘the Misfit’, has escaped from the ‘federal pen’. An unbearable Grandmother, exposed by O’Connor as a hypocrite, racist and religious zealot, sets off with her family to visit relatives in Tennessee. She insists on a diversion to an old plantation house, leading the family straight into the path of the misfit and his gang. What transpires is utterly horrific, yet due to O’Connor’s skilful storytelling, we ultimately find sympathy for the anti-hero.
First published in The Berkeley Book of Modern Writers, ed. William Phillips and Phillip Rahv, in 1953. You can read this, and other stories here