Start with 20-something son. Often an aspiring writer, visiting or returning from home after a failed run in a city. In favor of civil rights. Pair with a racist older relative, usually female. Include a gun or a heart condition. Don’t forget a black person. Heat for about twenty to thirty pages. Serve with a death at the end.
I just spent the past month reading all of Flannery O'Connor’s short stories. And despite this formula, I like her. Her characters aren’t neurotic. There are not trying to figure out their identity or get laid. Mostly, they’re just are selfish and ignorant. Usually, Hobbesian characters don’t appeal to me. But Flannery O’Conner isn’t trying to get our sympathy. She’s just pointing out a truth.
I especially recommend “A View of the Woods.”