Thursday, March 25, 2010

Look away, look away, look away

Current book: A Good Man is Hard to Find
Pages read: 1 - 126

So my lack of prejudice was rewarded with mediocre, depressing short stories. I do not feel as though I've learned a valuable lesson. Also, I don't know about the people who made this list - this is the second "novel" that's actually a short story collection, and I'm annoyed. It's not the same thing, guys, and I refuse to count it as such.

The title story is about a family (grandmother, parents, and three children) who go on a road trip to Florida and get shot by escaped convicts. That's really all that happens, except that the grandmother is clearly an example of the old and genteel traditions of the South and fights against the modernization and death of chivalry represented by her children and grandchildren, who don't have her manners or sense of propriety. And yet, those manners and sense of propriety get her nowhere when the car breaks down and she tries to sweet-talk the convicts. They just kill her anyway.

All of the stories are about the deep South, and most are about families, in one way or another, breaking and destroying themselves, or about strangers betraying trust, or about humanity being sort of awful and ignorant in some other way. I'm not going to summarize each one, because, frankly, it'd be painful for both of us.

I don't like O'Connor, though I see why she's respected as part of American literature. Honestly, though, these stories would have been a lot more impressive in the 20s than in 1953, when they were actually written. I'm not sure they're as innovative as they ought to be in order to be included in the canon. But they're depressing and illustrative of parochialism, so they get to count as literature, I guess. If I were from the South during this time period, though, I have to say I'd be pretty angry about O'Connor's portrayal of the place. I'm not saying some of it's not fair - the culture of the American South can be pretty hard to take - but not everyone is ignorant and conniving.

I should finish on Monday, I expect, and I'll be happy to be shut of it.

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