I picture Flannery O'Connor suspended over a wheat field, the night sky screaming away behind her, stars trying to get through the black, get away, be unseen by that all-knowing eye. Her hair is on fire but her thoughts are so cold it can't hurt.
'Wise Blood' doesn't begin, it continues. The sum experience of reading it is akin to waking up inside the dream of a vagrant ecstatic in the midst of a psychotic break.
I once dreamed that I was riding my bicycle along the wharf of Newport, Rhode Island on a gorgeous summer day. I saw bikinis under sarongs, paper cups filled with intoxicant refreshment, glistening tans and gorgeous bodies lounging away under sun that bestowed everything beneath it with a distinct glamour, myself included.
Then I heard a slight buzzing. Without slowing the bike, I turned to place the noise. Perhaps fifty feet behind me flew a white insect, following lazily, outlined against the ancient hull of a tall schooner anchored in the harbor. Some instinct told me I was in danger.
I began to pedal faster hoping to lose the bug. But instead the buzzing grew louder, so loud that I became unnerved and crashed to the cobblestones. The bug landed on my shoulder. It looked like a grasshopper and a cockroach but it was completely white. It sunk a pincer into my neck and instantly I knew I was dead.
I noticed that my knee was bleeding but the paralysis from the bite was so instant that I couldn't feel the cut. I died within seconds.
To those who think that you die if you die in your dreams I share that story. And I say read 'Wise Blood' because it is a dream of death that will not kill you either.
But there is the field. There she hangs, head on fire, stars scrambling to escape, eternity personified.