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Wise Blood: A Novel (FSG Classics) Paperback – March 6, 2007
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I've never really grasped what Walker Percy meant by that one until I read Wise Blood, but that's what happens. The opposite of love isn't hate. Rather, it's indifference, and hate is some form of love. In Wise Blood, Hazel does hate Christ, but that hate is emblematic of the belief (and unwanted love) he actually holds for Him. Wise Blood is Hazel's dark journey in a fallen world toward happening onto a bit of grace, painful but merciful at the same time.
Wise Blood isn't a book to read if you want to end up with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Its setting is a grim, fallen world, and the characters aren't exactly likeable. Nevertheless, the truth O'Connor has to present through her dark humor is powerful and insightful. This is a wonderful book for intellectual Christians and for anyone else searching for truth in this mess of a world.
As for the book itself, I only give it four stars because I think O'Connor's short stories are a better exploration of her themes. In the long form, instead of presenting a more nuanced view of the world, there is only room for more brutality and meanness; which isn't neccesarily a bad thing, but which isn't a good thing either. I would reccommend either of O'Connor's short story collections before The Violent, but for a fan of her work, The Violent is indispensable.
Throughout 1950s America--and especially in her hometown-the few readers who came across O'Connor's novel were dismayed or shocked by the its violence and its seemingly amoral characters; even two years after publication, still receiving fan letters ("what happened to the guy in the ape suit?") from the scattering of readers who liked it, O'Connor was able to joke, "I have now reached the lunatic fringe and there is no place left for me to go." A half century later, though, O'Connor has the last laugh, because the dark humor that pervades her "Southern Gothic" tale is more readily digested by modern audiences reared on films by the likes of David Lynch and Lars Von Trier
A quick and easy read, "Wise Blood" portrays a series of unforgettably creepy losers in haunting, disturbing scenes. Hazel Motes, a soldier discharged from the army because of an injury, becomes a street-corner preacher for the nihilistic "Church Without Christ" (with a congregation of one). He meets, and can't shake off, a friendless and troubled adolescent, and the two of them subsequently encounter an alcoholic charlatan who pretends to be a blind preacher and who hopes somehow to take advantage of Hazel by getting him to marry his young daughter.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hazel Motes, recently out of the army, travels to the fictional city of Taulkinham to, as he told a stranger on a train, do some things he’d never done before. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Lazarus
Well, I saw the movie, so I ordered the book. It's official; neither of them made the least bit of sense. Read morePublished 2 months ago by organist
Flannery has come back with a vengeance for her 2nd and last novel! The story surrounds Tarwater, a boy who has been raised by his Religion-crazed great-uncle, and who is trying to... Read morePublished 2 months ago by K.N.R.
The reviews are in a tangle. Some are written about Wise Blood and others about The Violent Beart It Away.
A good many of the reviews could be about either novella.
I feel this is one of the best examples of "Southern Gothic" literature that exists. I almost feel guilty admitting how much I love the work of Flannery O'Connor. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Francis C. Donnelly
This is an odd, disturbing book; but also entertaining. Flannery O'Connor had a wonderful sense of the grotesque, which is very much in evidence in this novel. Read morePublished 6 months ago by N. Hall