Coffee House Cafe is a spacious hangout. Sadly, they didn't have a fire going in the semi-sheltered outdoor seating, but inside was comfortable. The coffee was pretty and good. Robert went for the Irish coffee, and we tried the enormous portabella mushroom fries. Gina, our newest Book Club guest, joined to discuss Wise Blood.
Wise Blood follows the character of Hazel Motes--a young war vet sent home after a shrapnel injury to his gut. Soon, however, it becomes apparent that the true injury is to his faith. Having come from a sharply religious family, Hazel's experience of war prompts him to reject Jesus, a figure who had already been warped in his mind by a fire-and-brimstone-preaching grandfather and a hypocritical father. However, unable to leave behind the structure of faith, Hazel makes his way to the city of Taulkinham to preach the "Church without Christ." Upon arrival, Hazel encounters an overeager, wise-blooded kid named Enoch Emery along with a blind preacher named Asa Hawks and his daughter Sabbath.
Wise Blood is brilliantly comedic, full of situational irony and clever dialogue. The descriptions alone are worth the read. We're told that Hazel sees Jesus moving "from tree to tree in the back of his mind, a wild ragged figure motioning him to turn around and come off into the dark." When Hazel turns on his windshield wipers, the noise is "like two idiots clapping in church." The language O'Connor uses to sketch her characters is endlessly amusing.
Though, for the most part, everyone enjoyed the book, we had a few criticisms. Natalie thought the narrative would be better in a short story format, Robert wasn't very interested in the subject matter, Gina needed to hear a Yale lecture on it to fully appreciate the themes, and Megan and I were dissatisfied with Hazel's fate.