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Thursday, January 07, 2010


Ed Peters

Wow. Can't wait.

I've read every (published) word. My life would be the poorer without Percy.


Love in the Ruins is the best place to start?

Carl E. Olson

Jackson: Good question. Starting with Love in the Ruins wouldn't be wrong in any way, but my suggestion (and fairly subjective at that) is to start by reading The Moviegoer (his first novel) and Signposts In a Strange Land (essays) at the same time, or one after the other. Another approach would be to read The Message in the Bottle, which is a collection of his earliest essays/articles (some of them technical in nature), which set the stage for his novels. My experience is that once you start reading Percy, you read everything by him. By the way, Marion Montgomery just came out with a new book I am eager to read: With Walker Percy at the Tupperware Party: in Company with Flannery O'Connor, T.S. Eliot, and Others.

Ed Peters

Jackson. Listen to Carl, except when he says to read WP's non-fiction early. Don't. Read all his fiction first, in the order he published it (not necessary for story, but really cool to see him develop as a thinker and writer).

Then do WP's non-fiction (perhaps as you encounter it along the way in, say, Samway's terrific biography of WP).

Then read my translation of the 1917 Code.

Scott B

Agreed - start with the Moviegoer, and read it hand-in-hand with the Catechism instead of with his non-ficiton.

Carl E. Olson

Hmmmm...I'm a bit surprised by the downplaying and/or dismissal of Percy's non-fiction. Personally, I find it just as wonderful and engaging as his novels. And I found it shed much light on the novels themselves, especially essays such as "Novel-Writing in an Apocalyptic Time," "How to Be an American Novelists in Spite of Being Southern and Catholic," "Diagnosing the Modern Malaise," and "The Fateful Rift: The San Andreas Fault in the Modern Mind" (all found in Signposts...). And folks really should read at least two or three of Percy's interviews, which are scorchingly funny, especially his self-interview, "Questions They Never Asked Me." (For my part, I own Conversations with Walker Percy, a collection of most of his interviews.)

Having said all of that, I cannot argue with Dr. Peter's suggestion that you read his translation of the 1917 Code. It starts slow, but builds beautifully. ;-)

Ed Peters

"I'm a bit surprised by the downplaying and/or dismissal of Percy's non-fiction."

Who's doing that?

Carl E. Olson

..except when he says to read WP's non-fiction early. Don't. it hand-in-hand with the Catechism instead of with his non-ficiton.

Kevin C.

I think that we had a discussion similar to this a while back... I'm in agreement with Carl (for what it's worth) that it is very helpful to read his non-fiction along with or before his fiction. Included in that would be Lost in the Cosmos. Some people pick up his fiction and understand right away what he's up to. Others are turned off by some of the bluntness, and it can be a tremendous help to have an idea going in to the novel as to what he is up to.

Also, whenever it is read, Bourbon is not to be missed (an essay in Signposts.


I'm most interested in reading Lost in the Cosmos. There seem to be particularly strong opinions about it both ways on

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