My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Perhaps because I read this in Russia, I couldn’t help being reminded of some Russian authors, especially Chekhov (for the mixture of comedy and harsh realism) and Dostoevsky (for the glimpses of compassion and mercy amidst scenes of extreme cruelty). I hesitated between four and five stars, because a couple of the stories felt underdeveloped, but others I wouldn’t hesitate to call masterpieces, especially the title story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (best read without spoilers). “A Circle in the Fire” offers chilling examples of the “creepy child” character type. I also especially enjoyed “The Displaced Person” and “A Late Encounter with the Enemy” for their historical interest: the former deals with the arrival of Polish immigrants on a farm after World War II, and the latter with the confused memories of a Civil War veteran. All the stories delve into the whirlpool of rural and urban life, race, class, religion, and tradition, without offering comforting solutions. I will definitely check out more of O’Connor’s work at some point.