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Wise Blood

By: Flannery O’Connor
Narrated by: Bronson Pinchot
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Publisher's Summary

Flannery O’Connor’s astonishing and haunting first novel is a classic of 20th-century literature. It is the story of Hazel Motes, a 22-year-old caught in an unending struggle against his innate, desperate faith. He falls under the spell of a “blind” street preacher named Asa Hawks and his degenerate 15-year-old daughter.

In an ironic, malicious gesture of his own non-faith, and to prove himself a greater cynic than Hawks, Hazel founds The Church of God Without Christ but is still thwarted in his efforts to lose God. He meets Enoch Emery, a young man with “wise blood,” who leads him to a mummified holy child and whose crazy maneuvers are a manifestation of Hazel’s existential struggles.

This tale of redemption, retribution, false prophets, blindness, and wisdom gives us one of the most riveting characters in American fiction.

©1990 The Estate of Mary Flannery O’Connor (P)2010 Blackstone Audio

Critic Reviews

“No other major American writer of our century has constructed a fictional world so energetically and forthrightly charged by religious investigation.” ( The New Yorker)
“There is in Flannery O’Connor a fierceness of literary gesture, an angriness of observation, a facility for catching, as an animal eye in the wilderness, cunningly and at one sharp glance, the shape and detail and animal intention of enemy and foe.” ( The New York Times Book Review)

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What listeners say about Wise Blood

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Grotesque Southern Gothic Masterpiece

Holy crap and profit! I think Flannery O'Connor could go 10 rounds with Cormac McCarthy and still end with a draw. Wise Blood is an amazing look at sin, heresy, apostasy and redemption(?). No. Redemption might just be too hopeful for this O'Connor. Wise Blood is an amazing reworking of several of her shorter stories, but where this novel might have ended up as some Frankensteinian monster in lesser hands, Wise Blood pulls it off. It is a monster for sure, but you never should confuse a grotesque Southern Gothic masterpiece with a deformed literary Prometheus. This novel is amazing

37 people found this helpful

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Excellent novel, some problems with the narration

First off, let me say that I was really very impressed with the book. On the surface, it's basically a freak show of religious nuts, con artists and madmen, with none of the plot lines making too much sense; but when you go beyond the surface you see the different themes -- religious, philosophical, social -- that make this such a deeply brilliant and open-ended work.


However, a couple of things about the narration bothered me. Bronson Pinchot has a very clear and pleasant voice, but I felt almost like he was performing the characters, rather than narrating a book. The biggest problem was that whenever characters speak in a low voice he actually whispers. For anyone who listens to audiobooks while commuting, this makes some phrases almost impossible to hear. Indeed, I had to listen to some passages over and over again before I could make them out.


The other issue I had with his narration is more a matter of taste: he took great care to give the characters different voices, but to me it resulted in over-interpretation. For example, he performs one character in the book (Enoch) as having a permanently stuffy nose, so that he would pronounce "I mean it" as "I bead it". Now, there is no trace of this in the printed book (I checked), and so I feel like the narration added more than I wanted. Like I said, I'm sure many people wouldn't mind this at all, but I like narrators to add the minimum required for me to be able to differentiate speakers, no more.


So, in the bottom line, I would recommend this book, but if, like me, you listen to audiobooks in an environment where there is some outside noise, or you prefer a more subdued narration style, be prepared.

33 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wise Blood

I'm sad that this was the last Flannery O ' Connor audiobook left for me to listen to after finishing the other three weeks ago. Regardless, this will be an audiobook I will listen to again...and again. I read this years ago, but listening to it was an even better experience. Bronson Pinchot brings this story to life and very much gives it the zest O ' Connor regarded to in the introduction of this novel. This story is so many things; crazy, funny, weird, and thought provoking. I love her flawed, crazy characters and getting in their heads to understand why they do the crazy things that they do. Flannery is one of my favorites and I look forward to listening to all of these audiobooks again.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Thanks Audible...

Bronson Pinchot does an excellent job of bringing this wonderful classic to life. I think Flannery O'conner would be proud of this reading. Thanks Audible. I hope you bring us more from this author.

11 people found this helpful

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Wonderful

I noticed some comments about Bronson Pinchot's performance; some listeners found his reading too energetic and over-the-top. I have to disagree. For me, the story came alive and was more enjoyable because of his reading style. As for the novel itself, the characters are created so effectively they reminded me of people I once knew. The language is plain, in that mid-century American novel style that is hard to do well. The story is fantastically unexpected; dark, humorous, and entertaining.

9 people found this helpful

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A strange brew of a story

Mostly unsympathetic characters, a wonky moral compass, and a bleak aesthetic make Wise Blood a tough read. If you can stick with it, though, there are some gems hidden in O'Connor's artful language. And Bronson Pinchot brings the story to vivid life in all its Southern grit and glory.

8 people found this helpful

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Good parody of the Republican/Tea Party Base

What did you love best about Wise Blood?

After reading the story about 30 years ago, it was fun to listen to it as a parody of the Current Southern Gothic Political Party (Often called theRepublican/Tea Party. It reads like a cultural parody of them.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Enoch Emory for his sad, agressive lonliness and the way he reaches out to others by thrusting himself onto them, sort of like Mitt Romney.

What about Bronson Pinchot’s performance did you like?

What's not to like with something this delicous?

If you could take any character from Wise Blood out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Ned Beatty's character, Hoover Shoates, the slick huckster who made Hazel Motes' unsaleable religion into something popular. Sort of like Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich.

Any additional comments?

No disrespect, I come from the south and know and love these characters. I grew up with them. First time I read the story back in the 60s or 70s I was seriously struggling to make them coherent as literature. Now, it was much fun, I got all the works of O'connor through Audible and also read the recent novel by Ann Napolitano, A Good Hard Look (Highly recommended). Is it my fault that in the midst of my reading, Hoover Shoates, Enoch Emory and Hazel Motes should be reincarnated in TV debates as Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney. The debates are still going on so there is still time to catch the wave brother. Ha Ha.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Overall, Quite Good.

I agree that Mr. Pinchot's narration is a bit more spirited than some readers would likely prefer. But I think he actually does a decent job, and the story itself is excellent. Classic Southern Gothic, from a brilliant author.

6 people found this helpful

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Wonderfully done

Beautiful book and wonderfully read! Love Flannery! Thank you for a lovely experience in Christ through Mary, Fr. Michael
Priest

5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointed

I was disappointed in myself that I didn't like this book. It was recommended to me by a friend whose opinion about literature I value - we usually enjoy similar things. A southerner myself, I just couldn't get beyond the bizarre southern characters in this book - I just didn't care about them, in fact, I disliked them a lot. I quit about halfway through and may go back to it, but I doubt it.

5 people found this helpful

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  • kalesO
  • 12-02-22

Exceptionally brilliant

Religion and redemption, freewill and destiny, isolation and loneliness , the spiritual and the animalistic - this story has it all. Wonderfully performed, this story is darkly comic, unsettling and profound. O'Connor's style is something like Shirley Jackson meets John Steinbeck, I highly recommend this book.

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  • R Turner
  • 10-21-22

A real struggle.

I still, at halfway through, have no idea what this book is about. it just goes nowhere. The voice is great, the story is endlessly pointless.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-05-22

A story about rebellion and repentance

Well written and read story about faith, religion, rebellion and repentance. It’s interesting characters represent various relations to the religious experience. Well worth the listen.

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  • AJC
  • 04-06-22

Brilliant!

Fantastically dark and weird, with occasional laugh out loud moments. Nevertheless something quite deep and moving about human frailty underneath it all, even though everyone in it is pretty awful.
Bronson Pinchot delivers probably the best reading/interpretation of an audiobook I’ve ever experienced with this one and really brings the strange cast to life, as well as the latent emotion in the book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-25-22

Beautiful to listen to.

Love the late Flannery O'connor 's style and the production allows her unusual use of language to flow.I'm glad of the introduction that says it's a comic novel,the situations that arise are darkly comic.

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  • LMC
  • 11-23-21

Narration is of huge benefit to the book

Flannery O'Connor is a writer I greatly admire, but I have always found it difficult to immerse myself in her novels; they speak of an environment that is highly remote in time and place from my own. Bronson Pinchot's reading of Wise Blood is simply masterful: it absorbs the dialect and brings each character to life. What is more, Pinchot makes apparent the humour that O'Connor intended but can easily be missed by a reader not versed in her idiom. Wise Blood is still a strange and outlandish tale, but this recording presents it in the best possible light. Highly recommended.

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  • LightSpeed Spanish
  • 12-21-18

everyone seemed angry

This is probably one of the weirdest books I've listened to. The entire cast was angry. Maybe it was the just the opinion of the guy who read it.

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  • Craig M. Hanson
  • 06-07-18

Several Short Stories

This is several short stories pasted together. Themes of redemption, racism, sexism, and isolation also run through the novel. Christians may take offence as Jesus is repeatedly rebuffed.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Welsh Mafia
  • 02-07-11

Little comfort in this Southern masterpiece

Having come to this with some eagerness from a recommendation - or was that an indirect citation - from Donna Tartt, I must confess to being again greatly disappointed with the Southern Gothic genre to which this is attributed as a masterpiece. I previously struggled with William Faulkner and finally managed to get it - enjoying Sanctuary far more than As I Lay Dying but I am beginning to suspect that that is as far as I am going to go with it....I really could not make head or tail of this one - supposedly a comedy of grotesques. Grotesque, yes. Preachers of all sorts, casual prostitutes, panhandlers and low lifes - I can all just about handle, even though they are presented in a rag-bag narrative that I found impossible to follow.....but men (was it a man?) dressed in Gorilla outfits, buckets of lime used to self-inflict blindness and a sudden mid-air cut out of an ending. Where did it come from, where did it go to - I'm clueless. I could just about live with the repeated bashing over the head with the N-word- and would not even attempt to go there in terms of thinking about how the realism might somehow excuse the casual and comprehensive racism of the society - I'm not convinced that there was an ironic distancing...it was just repeated, plain and unpleasant. I know that a lot of time and effort has been spent in habilitating or rehabilitating Southern writers, but for me, in the context period of the 1940's it just doesn't wash. I saw a great production of Killer Joe by Tracey Letts around ten years ago and at that point the smoking gun was pointed squarely at Trailer Trash and I guess that is pretty much where the focus has been in this sort of Gothic writing for the past twenty years. Not uniformly edifying but certainly good enough in parts to warrant and occasional return to the genre. But Flannery O'Connor, for all my good intentions and the hype will probably have seen the last of me.

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  • jdk
  • 05-29-18

Best Performance Yet

I love O'Connor's dark, surreal humour, but Bronson Pincot steals the show here with an exemplary performance for each of her twisted, broken characters.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Robert Hiini
  • 12-03-21

Outstanding reading

I liked this book very much. It will need some mulling over. The read is magnificent. Worth it to hear the narrator utter Maud's lines alone.