Tuesday 12 May 2020

Love in the Ruins - Walker Percy - The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World

Love in the Ruins
The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World
Walker Percy
Open Road Media
ISBN 9780312243111
eISBN 9781453216224

First, I need to state this book was not an easy read. I normally rip through novels in a day or two. And this one took me almost a month, and there were several pauses. In fact, there were a few times when I put it down, I did not really expect to pick it up again. But so many people have recommended that I read Percy Walker that I really wanted to try and finish the book. I picked this and another Walker book up when they were on sale. And if I had paid full price, I likely would have returned the eBook for refund. Usually when I am reading a novel, I do not want to put it down, this one I had no problem leaving for days, even weeks. It was sort of a Lenten penance to actually finish it. But being a sucker for punishment I know I will at least try the other one I picked up, The Second Coming.

I was baffled by this book. I have friends who have given it 5 stars and others who have given it 1. I ended up in the middle giving it a 3. But up until the last few chapters I can easily understand those who rate it at 1 or 2 stars. The description of the new Open Road Media eBook edition is:

“Dr. Tom More has created a stethoscope of the human spirit. With it, he embarks on an unforgettable odyssey to cure mankind's spiritual flu. This novel confronts both the value of life and its susceptibility to chance and ruin.”

When I finally finished this novel, I could not help but compare it to A Scientific Romance by Ronald Wright. For in that novel I know people who interpret it completely differently. Some conclude the whole book is a result of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), and others a time travel novel. Part of we wonders if this whole book is the thoughts of a patient on the ward. And the doctor never got out of the hospital.

When I was in university, I knew a man who was an atheist existentialist, he took that to his logical conclusion, “If nothing I do here matters, and there is no here after, why continue being here.” And he attempted suicide. This novel is a mix of existentialism, satire and political commentary. Reading it from our time and place it just baffles me. And I really did not enjoy it. For the fans of Walker out there, I will give another a try. And hope for the best.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2020 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Walker Percy:

Love in the Ruins
The Last Gentleman
The Moviegoer
The Second Coming
The Thanatos Syndrome

A Thief of Peirce: The Letters of Kenneth Laine Ketner and Walker Percy
Conversations with Walker Percy
Diagnosing the Modern Malaise
Going Back to Georgia
How to Be an American Novelist in Spite of Being Southern and Catholic
Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
More Conversations with Walker Percy
Novel-Writing in an Apocalyptic Time
Questions They Never Asked Me
Signposts in a Strange Land: Essays
State of the Novel: Dying Art or New Science
Symbol and Existence
The City of the Dead
The Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy
The Loss of the Creature
The Message in the Bottle

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