Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Review: Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

Hazel Motes has just left the army and is wandering, looking for his place. He takes a train ride south, near to his home town but not quite there. He decides to become a preacher in Taulkingham, the small town he winds up in. But he doesn't preach Jesus, rather he proclaims the "Church without Christ," and looks for a new jesus that isn't all wrapped up in sin and redemption and forgiveness. Haze wants the freedom to behave the way he wants. He runs into a blind preacher, Asa Hawks, who has a young daughter. Asa is much more successful as a preacher and Haze follows him around. Haze is also befriended/stalked by Enoch Emery, a slightly younger man who also wants to live his own way but thinks he has a greater destiny. His destiny is written in his blood (the "Wise Blood" of the title) and his blood often leads Enoch along without letting him in on what the plan is. This story is Haze's, though, so it all comes down to him and his spiritual crisis in the end.

The tale spirals around, coming from different character's perspectives as the chapters change and the story progresses. The book reads quickly and is fascinating but also opaque. Few obvious explanations or interpretations are handed to the reader. The ending is fairly clear and perhaps sheds light on the preceding events. This book would definitely reward re-reading, which I will have to do after some time to mull it over.

Recommended (maybe highly recommended after I re-read it?).

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