This photo is a little chaotic-looking. I planned it that way on purpose to reflect what the inside of my brain looks like these days. I am trying really hard to read only one book at a time, which is to say that I am only actively reading four at the moment; this is a significant improvement over this time last month. Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood is on the syllabus for the MOOC I’m taking. When I read this novel before (Year One or Two of grad school, I think), I had read a few of O’Connor’s stories but was by no mean the hard-core devotee that I am today. I didn’t like it much, and when I started rereading it I hoped I would enjoy it more because I love her stories so much – but no such luck. I just can’t see the tightly-wound bundles of raw nerves that O’Connor has created here as plausible characters. I find nothing in them to resonate with my world. The language at times is fantastic, of course. Here’s a sample: “Mrs. Watts’s grin was as curved and sharp as the blade of a sickle. It was plain that she was so well-adjusted that she didn’t have to think anymore. Her eyes took everything in whole, like quicksand. ‘That Jesus-seeing hat!’ she said. She sat up and pulled her nightgown from under her and took it off. She reached for his hat and put it on her head and sat with her hands on her hips, walling her eyes in a comical way. Haze stared for a minute, then he made three quick noises that were laughs. He jumped for the electric light cord and took off his clothes in the dark” (56).
A few explanatory notes: 1) Mrs. Watts is a prostitute; 2) No, the reference to the “Jesus-seeing hat” does not make any more sense when one has read the novel. If anything, it makes more sense out of context; and 3) Flannery O’Connor loves hats. Her stories are full of them. If I were a visual artist, I would make an installation called “The Hats of Flannery O’Connor.” It would consist of a bunch of scrawny toothless people sleeping in public while wearing replicas of the hats in O’Connor’s stories.
I’m reading A Death in the Family for my Countdown to Concision challenge. It has its moments, but overall I’m not enjoying it much. I’m almost finished with it, so I’ll be back with a review soon.
I’m still knitting sweaters for my cousin’s two boys., and I’m making good progress on them. I honestly could knit these rollneck sweaters forever.
Yarn Along is hosted by Ginny on her blog, Small Things. Happy Wednesday!
Wise Blood! Oh that book. My husband loves all things Flannery but I struggle because I think I am a bit too literal or something. I really want to like them but always am left feeling a little… stupid… like I’ve missed the point. Anyway, I should read more. Happy knitting!
I’m glad to hear that others find Wise Blood a bit of a puzzle too. I got a lot of reading done today and am definitely enjoying the second half more than the first, but I still don’t know what it all adds up to. Some of the individual sentences are absolute masterpieces, though.
I enjoyed the movie, but when I read the book, I was confused, because the movie was comic, and the book dark.
The book is hilarious at times, but very darkly so. It’s hard to imagine a filmmaker really capturing the essence of the book without the serious and nihilistic overtones.
I would like to see the movie again. It is a John Huston movie. Brad Dourif playe Hazel Motes.
I have trouble imagining a good movie adaptation of this book. I almost think the best route would be to overplay all the oddity and pathos of the novel, almost the way the recent Gatsby adaptation overplayed all the excesses of that novel.