Flannery O'Connor

JRF's #33 - Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

This book felt like it was written by the smelly weird old cat lady you knew when you were a kid.  Maybe she was an eccentric genius but probably she was just crazy.

To start with,  I feel like much of this book was an exercise in putting your head in the toilet to see if it does indeed stink.  I didn't need the perversions and blasphemies of Hazel Motes and company to tell me that humanity is depraved and lost.  God's Word, the news and my own heart are enough reminders of that.

Secondly, I found myself grasping to find a coherent plot.  I think the plot was weird people walking around having weird thoughts and fornicating.  The most interesting character was the used car which had to be a metaphor for something, I just don't know what.  The most annoying character was the peeping tom/necromaniac, young man who beats up a guy wearing an ape suit and then runs around pretending he is an ape.  Again - don't ask me why.

Having said that, the way O'Connor illustrates this tale is quite brilliant.  Her writing style is very unique yet "southernly", kind of a mix of Mark Twain and Truman Capote.  A few times I chuckled at her ironic tone.

This is one of those books that I think everyone secretly is confused about but talks about it as brilliant because everyone else does too. Either that or it is one of those books that smart people like and I am not smart.  Very probable.  If I had to pull any kind of redemptive theme out of this story I guess it would be that Hazel Motes ("mote" is the King James Version word for "speck" - Matt 7:3 perhaps this is significant) is consistent and sincere in his worldview even though it leads to his self-destruction.  His insanity is really the only sane alternative to surrendering to Christ.  His sincere, consistent, bold nihilism exposes the insincere, hypocritical, cowardly christianity of the Bible Belt culture around him.  And yet his nihilism still doesn't absolve him from his guilt and defilement and this drives him to futile and fatal acts of self-justification.  Again, I have no clue if that is what Miss O'Connor wanted to convey.

Perhaps the fact that I have such a negative emotional response to this book is evidence of its brilliance.

I think I am going to have to wait until the next Apologia to see if Ron and Brad are able to enlighten me on the merits of this story.  They have their work cut out for them.  And I know they are up to the task.