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Wise Blood: A Novel by Flannery O'Connor
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Wise Blood: A Novel (original 1952; edition 1990)

by Flannery O'Connor

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2,788833,008 (3.85)206
Member:adamtyoung
Title:Wise Blood: A Novel
Authors:Flannery O'Connor
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (1990), Paperback, 232 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor (1952)

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Awesome. ( )
  Stubb | Aug 28, 2018 |
Reading O'Connor is really not for the faint of heart. It is something akin to a spiritual experience where afterwards you're a bit shaken and overwhelmed, perhaps even nauseous by the inexplicability and futility of it all. There was something revelatory in the experience, like being completely enveloped in a fog, simultaneously comforting and disorienting, and almost impossible to explain or understand the appeal unless you experience it yourself. Wise Blood is one book that I definitely have to reread in the future.

Aside: must read O'Connor's letter collection The Habit of Being because I'm absolutely fascinated by Hazel Elizabeth Hester, a penpal to both O'Connor and Iris Murdoch. ( )
  kitzyl | Jul 19, 2018 |
Just couldn't do this. I sometimes find it difficult to overcome things that are obviously repulsive but part of the time in which the book is written, but I can do that when there is something there that overreaches that. This book showed no promise that that was true. Again, drunkenness and prostitution are subjects I can countenance if they contribute to some greater meaning in the story...didn't see it.

I am bailing, after having several trusted friends tell me there wasn't going to be any improvement. Can't win them all, although this month I have really been having a bad run. I was disappointed, because I have previously always found the substance in O'Connor to overcome the flaws. ( )
1 vote | phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Hazel "Haze" Motes, recently discharged from the Army returns to his home only to find it abandoned. He exchanges his uniform for a outfit which makes him look like a preacher. Raised by a father who was a preacher and effected by his WWII experiences, he has become an atheist. Taking a train to Taulkinham, everyone he meets assumes that he is a preacher, which he angrily denies. After witnessing a blind preacher selling potato peelers, he decides to begin his church, "the church of truth without Jesus Christ Crucified."

This was Flannery O'Connor's first novel written in 1952. She had written only short stories before then. Hearing much of Flannery O'Connor and the fact she is a Georgia writer born in my second home, Savannah, I had high hopes for this novel. However, I found the book a series of disjointed vignettes. I did enjoy many of the colorful characters, especially, the dialect written by O'Connor with words such as "innerleckchuls" and "theseyer". ( )
  John_Warner | Jun 14, 2018 |
So - I read this book, but did not like it. I see why its considered a classic, but with every character mostly unlikable, and a plot that seems a bit pointless, its not one I would recommend to anybody.

It does remind me a bit of Catcher in the Rye - but instead of a juvenile delinquent, we get a former soldier who lost his faith in Jesus (not God). He comes back with no purpose in life, and when he thinks he found it again, realizes that he was fooled by a fraud.

Overall, I'm glad I read it (and it helps that it was short), but between the depressing themes, and the annoying characters, it is one that I won't be reading again. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Apr 15, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
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Hazel Motes sat at a forward angle on the green plush train seat, looking one minute at the window as if he might want to jump out of it, and the next down the aisle at the other end of the car.
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Book description
Hazel Motes returns from the military to find his home abandoned. He is a man in religious crisis. His own grandfather was a revival preacher, yet he has rejected not only faith, but the entire story of Jesus.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374530637, Paperback)

Wise Blood is a comedy with a fierce, Old Testament soul. Flannery O'Connor has no truck with such newfangled notions as psychology. Driven by forces outside their control, her characters are as one-dimensional--and mysterious--as figures on a frieze. Hazel Motes, for instance, has the temperament of a martyr, even though he spends most of the book trying to get God to go away. As a child he's convinced that "the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin." When that doesn't work, and when he returns from Korea determined "to be converted to nothing instead of evil," he still can't go anywhere without being mistaken for a preacher. (Not that the hat and shiny glare-blue suit help.) No matter what Hazel does, Jesus moves "from tree to tree in the back of his mind, a wild ragged figure motioning him to turn around and come off into the dark..."

Adrift after four years in the service, Hazel takes a train to the city of Taulkinham, buys himself a "rat-colored car," and sets about preaching on street corners for the Church Without Christ, "where the blind don't see and the lame don't walk and what's dead stays that way." Along the way he meets Enoch Emery, who's only 18 years old but already works for the city, as well the blind preacher Asa Hawks and his illegitimate daughter, Sabbath Lily. (Her letter to an advice column: "Dear Mary, I am a bastard and a bastard shall not enter the kingdom of heaven as we all know, but I have this personality that makes boys follow me. Do you think I should neck or not?") Subsequent events involve a desiccated, centuries-old dwarf--Gonga the Giant Jungle Monarch--and Hazel's nemesis, Hoover Shoats, who starts the rival Church of Christ Without Christ. If you think these events don't end happily, you might be right.

Wise Blood is a savage satire of America's secular, commercial culture, as well as the humanism it holds so dear ("Dear Sabbath," Mary Brittle writes back, "Light necking is acceptable, but I think your real problem is one of adjustment to the modern world. Perhaps you ought to re-examine your religious values to see if they meet your needs in Life.") But the book's ultimate purpose is Religious, with a capital R--no metaphors, no allusions, just the thing itself in all its fierce glory. When Hazel whispers "I'm not clean," for instance, O'Connor thinks he is perfectly right. For readers unaccustomed to holding low comedy and high seriousness in their heads at the same time, all this can come as something of a shock. Who else could offer an allegory about free will, redemption, and original sin right alongside the more elemental pleasure of witnessing Enoch Emery dress up in a gorilla suit? Nobody else, that's who. And that's OK. More than one Flannery O'Connor in this world might show us more truth than we could bear. --Mary Park

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:20 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The passengers on the train to Taulkinham show mixed reactions when Haze questions their belief in Jesus.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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