Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor

You can't get any poorer than dead.

Interesting as her second, and last novel. But not nearly as interesting as Wise Blood, her first, or the mature stories. The characters are familiar: Francis Marion Tarwater, the orphan raised in the woods by his grandfather, Francis's city-bred uncle Rayber and his brain-damaged son. Orphan makes for city after grandfather drops dead, orphan is torn between uncle's atheism and his grandfather's rabid evangelism, is tormented by a "shadow self" taunting him that he must go and finish his grandfather's work, by baptizing his cousin.

O'Connor's familiar metaphors and allegories are extended, repeated and embellished almost to the point of exhaustion. The plot is simple and not exciting. Worst of all, the characters in almost all instances lack the black comic power of her earlier creations.

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