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Wise Blood: A Novel by Flannery O'Connor

Wise Blood: A Novel (original 1952; edition 2007)

by Flannery O'Connor

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2,460692,498 (3.87)179
Title:Wise Blood: A Novel
Authors:Flannery O'Connor
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2007), Paperback, 232 pages
Collections:Your library, @Church
Tags:Fiction, Roman Catholic, Religion

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Wise Blood: A Novel by Flannery O'Connor (1952)

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Life has been busy, and I've not had time to read fiction for a while. I figured I'd start with Flannery O'Connor, as I've heard wonderful things about her writing, and it just seems right living in Savannah. That being said, I think I picked the wrong book of hers to start. This novel is just plain weird. I had to keep reminding myself that this was written by a woman 70+ years ago. I kind of expected some sort of a turning point or revelation,but there never seemed to be a conclusion. It all seemed depressing to me, and I hope to never find the town where he arrived, as even the residents were a bunch of oddballs. Ugh, I'll have to give O'Connor another go and hope for the best next time.

Reading another review, I see there is a suggestion that this was possibly an allegory. If so, I'll do research to see if it helps me understand what it all means. I'll update my review if it changes my current opinion. ( )
  MatronMurphy | Jul 11, 2016 |
Why isn't O'Connorian as commonly used as an adjective as Faulknerian is? Wise Blood captures the violence and desperation of the South as vividly as Faulkner ever did. ( )
  richardross79 | Jun 1, 2016 |
One religious/anti-religious nutcase meets a seemingly mentally ill man who unsuccessfully tries to control his bad impulses (he of the wise blood). They meet a charlatan preacher and his daughter, who gives nutcase #1 ideas.

Supposedly this is all alleghory/symbolism/whatever. That seems likely, because otherwise it is just plain weird. I am not a huge fan of the novel as symbolism (and only if the author admitted to such symbolism)--and I have no idea who means what etc etc.

My copy (from the library) had some highlights and some pretty funny notes in the margins (OH NO...hisself; he's a CON artist; WHY?!). Those comments made this read a little funny for me--whoever that person was, he/she saw things differently than I did. ( )
1 vote Dreesie | Apr 12, 2016 |
O'Connor's voice is like a narrative prayer in which the reader bathes [in a transformative fluid]. Upon completion, I felt raw and completely vulnerable. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Nathan Keener The book is very strange yet underneath the text something worth remembering is whispering at me. I have to listen again. There can be truth in violence. And some truths only come out by violence.
( )
  NAKnott | Jan 1, 2016 |
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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.
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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)

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

(summary from another edition)

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Legacy Library: Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O'Connor has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

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See Flannery O'Connor's author page.

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