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The challenge involves 26 posts in April, all somehow connected to the alphabet. My theme for the month is short stories. The Story Factory needs market research, of course, so I will be reading a short story for each letter of the alphabet and trying to learn some new techniques for my story writing. My lacks seem to be characterization and emotional experience, so I am mainly looking for stories to teach me those things. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments if you know of an amazing story. Another component of the challenge is the blog road trip, where we visit each other’s blogs, leave comments, etc. While I would like to visit a couple of blogs every day, it is more realistic to do Road Trips on Sundays. (Of course, my ongoing, 52 bad story challenge is still on, as well as the 2021 creative hours in 2021.

A Good Man is Hard to Find ~ Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor was a Southern writer whose characters were usually grotesque and violent. This story does it all. We have a racist Grandmother, rude children, creepy adults, and a mass murderer – quite the cast of characters. The Grandmother, who would prefer to vacation in her native Tennessee, tries to convince her son that a trip to Florida was not a good idea. There was a mass murderer loose; didn’t he read the papers? 

But the mother and the children want to go to Florida, so Florida it is. The family, along with a stowaway – Grandmother’s Cat – set off from Atlanta on their journey. They end up going down a side road to see a plantation and end up in an accident. Help comes along, but as the title says, a good man is hard. to find.

The Grandmother is the most detailed character. We know her thoughts and her feelings. She remembers her younger days, when ladies were ladies and men were gentlemen—the days when children were not rude to their elders. She is racist in her descriptions of a young boy they drive past. (disturbing language for readers in the 2000s.) 

I had read this story before and came across it doing a google search for stories that start with G. Not many stories concern themselves with serial killers these days. Or maybe I haven’t looked very hard. But to me, there are no nice, agreeable characters in the whole story. And yet, I still wanted to read to the end and see what happens on the Florida vacation. Maybe it’s O’Connor’s excellent writing. Or perhaps the Grandmother reminds me too much of my own grandma.