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Best Walker Percy Book

author
James Smith
• Thursday, 17 December, 2020
• 7 min read

FREE Shipping by Amazon Born in Birmingham, Alabama, he was the oldest of three brothers in an established Southern family that contained both a Civil War hero and a US senator.

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Contents

Only in the great novels did Percy find this answer, and it led him to convert to Catholicism and become a novelist. Many read Percy as a “philosophical novelist.” While philosophers may have provided insight on the big ultimate questions that Percy pursued, he believed novels were the best modes for registering these questions and experiencing potential answers.

Although Percy may have never made it to Paradise, the conclusion of Dante’s journey, we know from his letters that he routinely returned to Inferno. In our age of email and social media, they would have had more constant interchange, one imagines.

Published in 1959, this sci-fi novel is not often included in canonical lists, and thus may seem a strange addition to this lineup. He rewrites some of it in his pulp classic Lost in the Cosmos, alluding to the novel with the character Abbot Leibniz.

Through a dystopian lens, the book warns about future destruction; it is the canary in the coalmine that Percy himself hoped to be. Jessica Wooten Wilson is associate professor of literature at John Brown University and the author of the newly released Reading WalkerPercy’s Novels.

Her research and teaching interests include Christianity and literature, especially Catholic writers and Russian novels. This entry was posted on Friday, May 11th, 2018 at 12:00 pm and is filed under Fiction, Guest Blogger.

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For all the virtues of Love in the Ruins -some say it is Percy's best novel-the work that still is read the most is his first novel: The Moviegoer, published in 1961 and the winner of the National Book Award in 1962. This story of Bin Bowling, a stockbroker who lives vicariously through the characters he sees in the movies, struck an immediate chord in a culture increasingly media-saturated and celebrity-driven.

Nearly 50 years after its publication, we now see The Moviegoer as prophetic and seminal, with Percy's place in American literature secure. Indeed, he wrote that the novelist is essentially a “diagnostician”; he names the pathologies of his patient.

Of course, Percy the scientist would not be impressed with the calendar coincidences I celebrate this month. After all, it was often the odd, random coincidence that jerked Percy characters such as Bin Bowling from their stupor and forced them to sit up with a start, look around, and suddenly notice what in that dark wood they had been missing.

More than fifty years after its publication, WalkerPercy's National Book Award Winner, The Moviegoer, still confronts, comforts, and enlightens generations of readers. This collection of twelve new essays, edited and introduced by Jennifer Lesser and Mary A. McCoy, emphasize the evolving significance of this seminal, New Orleans novel.

Authors' consider the text with diverse perspectives, drawing from philosophy, theology, disability theory, contemporary music and literature, social media, and film studies. Jay Olson opens the volume with reflections on rereading the novel on a Kindle decades after writing his important biography of Percy. H. Collin Lesser, Montserrat Gins, Jessica Wooten Wilson, and Brian Job follow with illuminating essays analyzing Percy's influences, from St. Augustine and Cervantes to Heidegger and Dostoevsky.

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Jonathan Potter and Read Mercer Schuchardt, Mary A. McCoy, Matthew Later, and Dorian Speed delve into the novel's significance to cinema, including an exhaustive guide to its film references, a meditation on Bin Bowling as a director of his existence, and the semiotics of celebrity. Brent Walter Cline and Robert Bolton, Michael Kobe, and L. Lamar Nisly present a roadmap for Bowling's inward journey, exploring a variety of elements from the role of the broken body to the spiritual connection to Bruce Springsteen lyrics.

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Love in the Ruins, an apocalyptic comedy, was published in 1971 and takes place in what then would have been the “near future” of the early 1990s. The good old USA finds itself in a state of decline as liberals fight it out with conservatives, black guerrillas fight against whites, hippies living in the swamps commit atrocities against townsfolk, and entire cities and vast suburban developments sit abandoned as the population crowds into small towns and gated communities.

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But most people do not notice anything unusual about their situation: they manage to get by in their gated communities, dismiss horrific murders and travel restriction as just more inconveniences of modern life, and give lots of business to proctologists and psychologists. He describes himself as a “bad Catholic”, claiming to believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Catholic Church, (he is a descendant of Sir Thomas More, the 16th century martyr) but admits that he loves fornicating more than anything, then bourbon, then science and music, God fourth, and his fellow hardly man at all.

He devotes most of his energy to sleeping with women half his age who remind him of his dead daughter. He has invented a little device, called a gasometer, that measures the electrochemical activity in different centers of the brain giving an accurate reading of the mental health of the person being treated.

Another ambiguity is that the book also criticizes a dualistic approach the mind body problem: “spiritual” people are mostly frauds, and Dr More complains about Descartes messing up the world by treating the soul as if it were a ghost in a machine. Like WalkerPercy’s other novels, the style is a little dense at times and needs to be read slowly, but the effort is worth it.

Percy’s chosen voice, Dr Tom More may be a “lecher and a drunk with white-trash morals” but he is still a doctor and a cultured man, dropping medical, biblical, classical and pop-culture references as he describes his adventures. Though it was possible to believe that her arm had the usual layers of fat, muscle, artery, bone, these gross tissues were in her somehow transformed by her girl-chemistry, bejeweled by her double-X chromosome.

Or a description of his dead wife’s bookcase, complete with Siddhartha, Atlas Shrugged, and ESP and the New Spirituality : My wife, who began as a cheerful Episcopalian from Virginia, became a priestess of the high places… Beware Episcopal women who take up with Ayn Rand and the Buddha.

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