emi Bevacqua's Reviews > Wise Blood

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
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Jan 10, 10

bookshelves: classics
Read in January, 2010

I had no expectations about Flannery O'Connor or this particular book before reading it, and I just really enjoyed it. I love that there's no readers' guide included in this version (second edition), just a short author's note in which she describes it a "comic novel" and touches on free will and integrity. This was a very fast read, with elegant parallels between various characters, and it feels like one which will linger in the subconscious for a good long while.

Hazel Motes is a veteran of war who is desperately trying to avoid following in his preacher grandfather's footsteps, despite being taken for a preacher by everyone from cab drivers to prostitutes. He is motivated by his idea of anti-redemption, and stumps for his Church Without Christ while paying serious penance (filling his shoes with rocks and glass, etc).

From the very first page, Hazel always wants attention from someone who is ignoring him, while coldly rebuffing attempts of friendship by others. And it's interesting that the title describes the inherited trait of a secondary character, Enoch Emery, a friendless, abandoned 18 year old who believes his "wiser blood" tells him what to do, when, and with curious results.

I love all the character names: Mrs. Wally Bee Hitchcock, Leora Watts, Asa and Sabbath Hawks, Onnie Jay Holy, Hoover Shoats,etc; and found so many of O'Connor's descriptions so pithy and timeless.
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