May 6, 2010

Walker Percy: A Life **

** Walker Percy: A Life, Patrick Samway, 1997

Back in the 80s I heard Bill Bennett say that Walker Percy was his favorite novelist, so I decided to give him a shot and eventually read all his novels and one non-fiction book.

Percy studied to be a physician, but got TB during his residency and never practiced. He eventually became a novelist, publishing six novels from 1961 to 1987:

  • The Moviegoer (1962 National Book Award winner)
  • The Last Gentleman
  • Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World
  • Lancelot
  • The Second Coming
  • The Thanatos Syndrome

and was a bit of an amateur philosopher, writing such books as:

  • The Message in the Bottle: How Queer Man Is, How Queer Language Is, and What One Has to Do with the Other
  • Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

Though I read all his novels, he has never been a favorite of mine. Too much of a braniac, too buried in philosophy, I guess. Maybe if I read them now, 20 years later, I might find them interesting. Maybe not. My To Be Read shelf is much too full to find out now.

Unfortunately, the biography had the same failings, plus a tendency to focus on details that had little interest to me. Did I really need to know which courses he took every semester in medical school and who were his instructors? I didn't think so.

My interest perked up when it turned to writing and publishing, but it was interlarded with long sections on his philosophical pursuits and Catholic interests, so it made for slow going, even more so since it was an elliptical trainer book.

Anybody need a copy of Walker Percy, A Life?

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