Friday, 1 October 2010
Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O’Connor was an American writer from the southern state of Georgia who wrote mostly short stories but she also wrote two novels including Wise Blood. Quite a lot of her stories are based in the south and contain elements of the grotesque and disturbing and have been described as 'Southern Gothic' but they also deal with moral and ethical issues as a result of her Roman Catholic faith. O’Connor was diagnosed with Lupus at a young age which eventually killed her and she wrote the majority of her work including her novels while battling with this disease.
Wise Blood has all these themes mentioned above and the result is a very strange book indeed.
The story opens with Hazel Motes, a man recently discharged from the Army, on the train to the fictional town of Taulkinham, Tennessee, where he's "...going to do some things I never have done before." Hazel has never been to Taulkinham and once he does get there and has sorted out his lodging, he goes about trying to start ‘the church without Christ’ by street preaching.
Allow me to give you a brief summery of ‘the church without Christ’. Hazel believes that he can be saved from evil by believing in nothing. If he has no soul to save then there is no such thing as sin and therefore he can do whatever the hell he likes. By avoiding sin this way he will get to meet Jesus (or something like that).Of course in doing this, Hazel just proves himself as a believer and other characters are used to argue different aspects of theology.
Other characters in the book include a preacher who may or may not have blinded himself with acid, his daughter who only believes in self-gratification and Hazel’s follower Enoch who is trying to find the new physical Jesus. As I say, it’s a strange strange book which brings in one grotesque character in after another and I’m not entirely sure what to make of it all.
I am glad I read it, the characters were all thought provoking and there was a large amount of black comedy throughout. However I don't think I really connected at all with the story and found the narrative quite strange and out of place in parts.
Would I recommend this? I am really not sure, this author has certainly intrigued me but this book will not leave you with a warm happy feeling at the end so it's up to you.
Posted by Jess