Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Fresh from a stint in the army, Hazel Motes starts a religion out of spite and gets entangled with a preacher named Asa Hawks and his teenage daughter, Sabbath.
I recently read the exquisite The Summer that Melted Everything and kept thinking of Flannery O'Connor. I already had this on my Kindle so I gave it a shot.
Wise Blood is the tale of Hazel Motes and his crisis of faith. Something happened during the war that shattered Hazel Motes' childhood dream of being a preacher and now he's taking it out on the rest of the world. While running around generally being an asshole, he encounters colorful characters like Enoch Emery, the boy with the Wise Blood of the title, Asa Hawks and his daughter, and Hoover Shoates, a con-man who knows a good thing when he sees it.
I'd say Wise Blood was the Rise and Fall of Hazel Motes but there wasn't much of a rise. Maybe The Continued Decline of Hazel Motes would be more appropriate. The book starts out bleak and just keeps getting bleaker. How many other books feature the main character dying blind in a ditch at the end? However, there were some laughs despite the bleakness, many of them at Enoch Emery's expense.
Flannery O'Connor writes some powerful stuff. Her writing reminds me of Jim Thompson's, whom she probably had angry sex with up against a dumpster behind a bar at some point.
Wise Blood's tale of religious obsession made me uncomfortable at times. However, I didn't think Wise Blood was nearly as good as her short story collection A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories. Her short stories were much more focused and quicker to the punch. Three out of five stars.
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