When most of us living today hear the title “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”–Flannery O’Connor’s 1955 story–we smile and think of Mae West’s twist on it, “A hard man is good to find,” although Mae West (1893-1980) probably responded to the 1919 song A Good Man Is Hard to Find, unless as posited theoretically by one source, phrases.org.uk, Sophie Tucker (1887-1966) coined the phrase (apparently Ms. Tucker used the song A Good Man Is Hard to Find to close her act).
I know all of the above because, while waiting for my second and third novels to be published, I’m writing my fourth, A GOOD MAN, inspired by Flannery O’Connor’s story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” In O’Connor’s story a vacationing family (husband, wife, son, daughter, baby, and husband’s mother) encounter three escaped convicts, one known as “The Misfit.” The encounter gives rise to The Misfit saying of the husband’s mother, “She would have been a good woman if it had been someone there to shoot her every minute of her life.”
In my novel A GOOD MAN a family spends Christmas in a Maine mountain house with difficult Aunt Fiona. They take in two snowbound motorists who turn out to be escaped convicts, the older one maniacally religious and dangerous, the younger as desperately in need of love as a mistreated puppy. On the drive to Maine college freshman Gusten reads news on his cell. “Of mild interest [to Gusten] is a story about two convicts who escaped from a privately operated prison in Virginia. In high school Gusten wrote a paper on privately run prisons. That a corporation can own a prison for profit—make money off the incarceration of society’s most pathetic and needy—sickened Gusten. Prisons, hospitals, medical practices, insurance companies, banks—no one forced to deal with any of these institutions should be forced to rely upon the greed of corporate strangers, as Blanche DuBois might have expressed it.”
On his flight home from college Gusten read Flannery O’Connor’s story featuring The Misfit. Thus do both Blanch Dubois and The Misfit find themselves snugly together in my pages.
Looking for Blanche’s quote, “I have always relied upon the kindness of strangers,” from Tennessee Williams’ play A Street Car Named Desire, I came upon other interesting Blanche Dubois quotes, including “I can’t stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action.” (For a site of Blanche Dubois quotes, see http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0012161/quotes.)
The provocative stage shot above, of cigarette-smoking Blanche and barebacked Stanley, was photographed by Carissa Dixon and appeared in Chicago on the Aisle captioned “Tracy Mitchell Arnold [as Blanche] sizes up the situation with Stanley [Eric Parks].”