Pilgrim in the Ruins: A Life of Walker Percy

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9780671657079: Pilgrim in the Ruins: A Life of Walker Percy

The first major biography of Walker Percy traces his literary career back to his childhood days spent carousing with Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner, and Eudora Welty on his uncle's plantation. 17,500 first printing.

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Review:

This extremely well written biography offers many of the satisfactions of a good novel: strong themes, sensitive appreciation of character, and a compelling protagonist. The author of The Moviegoer and Lancelot, Walker Percy, seems always to have been a solitary wayfarer, despite an enduring marriage and close friendships, including a lifelong one with novelist and Civil War historian Shelby Foote. In Jay Tolson's assessment, the weight of his father's and grandfather's suicides bore heavily on Percy, whose desire to escape his deadly family legacy undoubtedly had a bearing on his choice of the Catholic faith at age 31.

From Library Journal:

Percy the novelist was arguably the most legitimate apologist for orthodox Christianity in modern letters. A convert to Catholicism, Percy mourned this century's loss of a sense of sin, destroyed by the sensations and temptations offered by the richest country on earth. As a result, he created characters who sought the source of their alienation. Tolson's biography is a skillful synthesis of the trivia of Percy's life, the evolution of his thought, and the substance of his novels. Echoing Percy's belief that history and family history are hopelessly interwoven, Tolson dwells perhaps more than usual on the author's forebears in the South, where they had been prominent for generations. Percy trained as a doctor but contracted tuberculosis while autopsying cadavers at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, which influenced his decision to become a writer. It was his reading of Kierkegaard that alerted him to the useful paradox that true individuality is won only through submission to a higher authority. A substantial biography of a very substantial writer.
- Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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