I started watching John Huston’s adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood (1979) for the first time, and I actually stopped half-way through. And while I am a huge fan of Harry Dean Stanton, and I dug Brad Dourif in this role, I felt the film really sucked the life out of the literature—and it may also be part of an ongoing disillusion I’m experiencing with a few of Huston’s films these days. I’ll ultimately finish the film and then read Wise Blood again because I’m interested in why I’m having such a vehement reaction to the film, plus it gives me an excuse to re-visit the novel.
All that said, the new Criterion edition of Wise Blood comes with two phenomenal audio gems:
O’Connor’s reflections on the nature of the Southern grotesque in literature (“Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Literature”). It’s simply magic to hear her talking about the fact that the grotesque is alive in the South because Southerners can still recognize a freak, and “it’s when the freak can be sensed as a figure for our essential displacement that he attains some depth in literature.” Say what you will about the American South, but its literature during the first 60 years of the 20th century remains unparalleled in terms of beauty, style, and sheer gothic genius.
Download “Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Literature”
And add to that Flannery O’Connor reading “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” and what you have is a veritable gold mine.
Download “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
Special thanks to the Black Market Kidneys Blog for converting and uploading the audio.