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Wise Blood

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If everyone is still up for it, I'd like to kick off the Wise Blood discussion as our next book club discussion. I've got to pick up my copy from the library, but it's a fairly quick read.

I've been around here long enough to know how to start a "featured discussion" topic ... but I don't. Alan? blush.gif

EDIT: Duh, it just occurred to me that I can go into the Featured Discussions thread and start one, right?

Edited by Mark

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Ready when you are! I can start reading this weekend.

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I read a few pages Wednesday night. It's due back in about a week, and I'll have other reading to do in the meantime, but I'm hoping somehow to squeeze in Wise Blood. Those first few pages have me hooked.

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I'll see if I can get a copy from the library this weekend.

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I think I bought it a few weeks ago. But it's buried under a pile of papers somewhere. I'll see if I can dig it out and give it a read.

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I will try to read it this week-end in between the bbqs.

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If everyone is still up for it, I'd like to kick off the Wise Blood discussion as our next book club discussion.

I'm new here, so I don't quite know how this works ... you all read the same book and then discuss it? Anyhow, I have a bit of a head start, as I've read Wise Blood 3 or 4 times. I've found nothing else like it.

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I've been 3/4 of the way through this for about 2 months now. I left the last quarter because I kept getting so pissed off with the damn thing, that I thought it only be fair to simmer down a bit. Which isn't to say the woman isn't a talented writer... just... ok, ok, I'll finish it off and come back with something.

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I'm new here, so I don't quite know how this works ... you all read the same book and then discuss it? 

Yup, that's all there is to it. We started a few months ago with A Hearbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, which which we split into chapter discussions that went pretty well. Our second book, Shusaku Endo's Silence, never really took fire ... silence became the theme of the discussion, unfortunately.

I've been 3/4 of the way through this for about 2 months now.  I left the last quarter because I kept getting so pissed off with the damn thing, that I thought it only be fair to simmer down a bit.  Which isn't to say the woman isn't a talented writer... just... ok, ok, I'll finish it off and come back with something.

This oughtta be an interesting discussion. Can't wait to hear what has you all fired up, gigi. biggrin.gif

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I've been 3/4 of the way through this for about 2 months now.  I left the last quarter because I kept getting so pissed off with the damn thing, that I thought it only be fair to simmer down a bit. 

Uh-oh. unsure.gif I'm really not all that surprised, though. There's plenty in there to make your blood boil. I'd be shocked if it got no reaction at all.

Yep, should be a good discussion.

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so...um... when does the actual discussion take place?

I'm looking forward to hearing what got gigi all pissed off!

to me, O'Conner creates in this story an atheist character with real integrity and follows his path to it's logical conclusion. she doesn't villify him, as so many christian authors might, but gives him the true heart and mind of a seeker, with honesty and integrity, one who puts his life on the line for what he believes (or doesn't believe). He's not choosing disbelief as a cop-out from responsibility.

that's all I'll say for now...

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How are we doing the discussion this time? The whole book at once? By chapter? I've read it before, but I'm still in the process of rereading.

Edited by Diane

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I'm 55 pages into it, but I can't figure out what the heck is going on.

Some advice: Don't read 10 pages, then put the book down for days, then read another 5 pages, etc.

My copy is due back today, but I'll grab another copy by tomorrow at the latest.

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Mark and I have chatted about this, and even though neither one of us has finished reading, we've decided to go ahead and open the discussion so that those who are ready can post their initial thoughts. I guess we're basing this format on what the Film Club has done. Anybody who has anything to say can go ahead and say it while the rest of us read. Once we have some thoughts down, we'll get into a deeper discussion, questions, etc.

Sound good? I guess we should assume this thread will be full of heavy spoilers, though feel free to black out or tag your posts if you want.

Y'all can let me know if you have any other ideas about how to approach this.

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*crickets chirping*

Has no one finished reading this? (I admit that I haven't, so that's not an accusation.) Maybe it's time to rethink this a bit. I'm going to start out by posting O'Connor's intro that she wrote for the book's 10th anniversary (1962). I'm just really fond of it, and there's quite a bit to think about in it. (BTW, I hope I'm not violating any forum copyright rules here. I checked the other book club discussions and saw excerpts, so....)

Wise Blood has reached the age of ten and is still alive. My critical powers are just sufficient to determine this, and I am gratified to be able to say it. The book was written with zest and, if possible, it should be read that way. It is a comic novel about a Christian malgr
Edited by Diane

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It's a comic novel? Geez. I've been misreading it!

Thanks for posting that, Diane. I've checked out the book again, although I could only get my hands on a version of Wise Blood included in a book called Three by O'Connor or something like that, featuring three of her novels. So I've got to figure out where I was in the other edition and ... and ... well, in light of this revelation about the novel's comic intentions, maybe I should just start again.

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Hey, if anybody wants to break this down to a chapter-by-chapter discussion, or several chapters at a time, let me know. That might spur some discussion....

Yeah, the lady had one strange sense of humor. I'm sure I wasn't thinking "COMEDY!" the first time I read it. Not overall, anyway. But like she said, "matters of life and death...."

Edited by Diane

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I'm 9 days away from vacation -- 9 MORE DAYS! -- and Wise Blood will be near the top of the stack of fun reads I'm taking with me to the beach. I haven't read this since a sophomore-level survey course. Wow, that was, like, 13 years ago. I'm really looking forward to it.

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Yay! I'm glad you're in, Darren. Heh, "fun reads I'm taking with me to the beach...." We're really messing with the way Christian views this book, aren't we? wink.gif

Christian, you mentioned starting over. I really need to go back and revisit some scenes and take more notes. I started off so well.... Guess you're inspiring me to be more diligent.

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It's a comic novel? Geez. I've been misreading it!

Heh heh ... I read it in college and had no idea it was supposed to be comic .... went back to it a few years later and had a completely different take on it. She's adept at social satire. The chapter 1 scene on the train, with such vivid characterizations (the woman with the "poisonous Eastern accent" for example) is some priceless stuff.

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It's a comic novel? Geez. I've been misreading it!

The chapter 1 scene on the train, with such vivid characterizations (the woman with the "poisonous Eastern accent" for example) is some priceless stuff.

" I reckon you think you've been redeemed"

This is a fascinating thread for me -- up until now I'd not talked with anyone who didn't see the book as comedy.

I'm also surprised at the scant mention here of the film version by John Huston. It is very true to the novel. I own the video, so I've watched it about 20 times. There have been times when I've said to myself (about some line in the film): Wait, that line is not in the book! So, I'd go get the book off the shelf and, sure enough, they had used FOC's words verbatim.

Of course in the book, Hazel buys an Essex, and in the film it's a 1958 Ford Fairlane, but most folks will not be bothered by that. The car is the wrong colour, too. One important scene is omitted from the film, and that is when Hazel goes into The Frosty Bottle. But these minor flaws are more than made up for by Harry Dean Stanton as Asa Hawks ... fabulous!

Things to watch for in the book:

Why did Onnie Jay Holy tell Hazel that he reminded him of "Jesus Christ and Abraham Lincoln"?

What critique is FOC making about the automobile?

Edited by anglicanbeachparty

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Don't mean to sound high 'n' mighty, but are you saying I'm supposed to be amused by the racist attitudes on exhibit in the first chapter or two? If so, was that sort of "humor" considered acceptable when the book was written?

I admit it: I grew up laughing at most racist jokes, and didn't feel guilty about it, even when people pointed out to me that the jokes were in poor taste. But those jokes lost any appeal years ago. If this book is supposed to take me back to the days of my youth, I'm not sure I can go with it.

But again, I'm probably mis-reading the book as an indictment of those attitudes, right?

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Don't mean to sound high 'n' mighty, but are you saying I'm supposed to be amused by the racist attitudes on exhibit in the first chapter or two? If so, was that sort of "humor" considered acceptable when the book was written?

I admit it: I grew up laughing at most racist jokes, and didn't feel guilty about it, even when people pointed out to me that the jokes were in poor taste. But those jokes lost any appeal years ago. If this book is supposed to take me back to the days of my youth, I'm not sure I can go with it.

But again, I'm probably mis-reading the book as an indictment of those attitudes, right?

Flannery is, of course, condemning racism (and she does so more forcefully in some of the short stories ... I can look up which ones, if you're interested).

But, above all, FOC began with the world as it is (warts and all), and Wise Blood is set in a very racist time and place. That is the very atmosphere of the book. But racism is not one of the major themes of either of either Wise Blood or The Violent Bear It Away. I am loathe to say (at this point, while some people are just starting the book) what I think the major themes of Wise Blood are. I certainly would love to, later.

Just to give you a brief idea of how central this book has been to my life, here is a photo of the grille I used for several years on the 1963 Olds wagon I bought in rural Georgia, during a pilgrimage to Flannery's grave in Milledgeville (A Bird Sanctuary).

[attachmentid=245]

post-938-1118403359_thumb.jpg

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Anglican: Your passion for Wise Blood is inspiring! I appreciate your comments and hope to dive into the book ... soon.

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Don't mean to sound high 'n' mighty, but are you saying I'm supposed to be amused by the racist attitudes on exhibit in the first chapter or two? If so, was that sort of "humor" considered acceptable when the book was written?

I admit it: I grew up laughing at most racist jokes, and didn't feel guilty about it, even when people pointed out to me that the jokes were in poor taste. But those jokes lost any appeal years ago. If this book is supposed to take me back to the days of my youth, I'm not sure I can go with it.

But again, I'm probably mis-reading the book as an indictment of those attitudes, right?

Christian, I grew up the same way, and probably for that reason HATE any kind of race-based jokes, once I figured out what was at the bottom of 'em. That train scene in chapter 1, though... and maybe I'm misreading it ... hits me as social satire that's something other than racist. As Haze moves through the compartments, he's the outcast, the un-saved white trashy kid, who comes up against Eastern snobbery and is even looked down upon by the black porter. And even as he tries to bait the porter, after recognizing him, the porter is wise enough to brush him off, insisting he's from Chicago.

Still working on my first cup of coffee, so I'm not all here yet, and will try to hold off posting until I'm coherent.

Flannery is, of course, condemning racism (and she does so more forcefully in some of the short stories ... I can look up which ones, if you're interested).

But, above all, FOC began with the world as it is (warts and all), and Wise Blood is set in a very racist time and place.  That is the very atmosphere of the book.

That's what I absolutely love about O'Connor's writing, how she so accurately presents "the world as it is." That's why many people have a hard time with her (Diane and I chatted about this) and can't see those "moments of grace" she plants in some of the violent and ugly moments of her characters' lives. It'd be easy to read her work and think she just hated everyone. (paraphrasing an anecdote Diane related)

Just to give you a brief idea of how central this book has been to my life, here is a photo of the grille I used for several years on the 1963 Olds wagon I bought in rural Georgia, during a pilgrimage to Flannery's grave in Milledgeville (A Bird Sanctuary).

[attachmentid=245]

Very COOL!!! cool.gif

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