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"In times like these when everyone is wonderful, what is needed is a quest for evil.
You should be interested! Such a quest serves God's cause! How? Because the Good proves nothing. When everyone is wonderful, nobody bothers with God. If you had ten thousand Albert Schweitzers giving their lives for their fellow men, do you think anyone would have a second thought about God?"
― Walker Percy, Lancelot
I find myself running to Walker Percy to explain to my why the modern world feels so f-ed up. He never provides a perfect salve, but it is nice that he recognizes some things in a similar way. I'm not sure why I am so drawn to "bad Catholic" writers, but they are kinda my thing.
Lancelot is not his best, but almost. It is funky and wormed its way into me in such a way, I've thrown it over on my wife's side of the bed for her to read. It is absurd, dark, funny, a moral hazard I need to have someone to talk to about it.
I love the way Percy writes, but also adore the things he is saying. His big issue, I believe, in this book is how modern institutions (technocrats and modern psychology) not only enable often the worst in society, in the name of the good, but that other institutions (the Church) in this modern age are powerless often to prevent this attack on morality. The Church is distracted, weak, and it is up to us as individuals to combat the moral decay. That sound boring and I don't really do Percy justice, but the plot in this novel is centered around a 'Fluoridation'-type conspiracy, and the hero, Lance, is a discredited psychiatrist now living at a nuthouse. The structure of the novel allows Lance to describe (the story slowly unwinds) his past actions (the central of the novel plot) to his old friend (a screwed-up priest or half-assed physician) named Percival.
Percy's novels are basically one giant rant against the modern age and some of the problems that come with its decadence. While I don't always agree with Percy, his novels seem to resonate hard with me. Like some literary tuning fork, there is a part of me that seems to resonate (emotionally? intellectually? spiritually?) with some Percy's arguments. His novels are often a bit messy, but also seem alive in their mess. There is always something with Percy that I don't quite like, but he tends to leave me with more hooks than most novels. I walk away from his novels dragging many of his visions, his phantasms, his warnings with me.
15 of 20 people found this review helpful
I've been in love with Walker Percy's "Lancelot" since reading it in college more than 30 years ago. It's a great story and in many ways changed my life. This audiobook reading was a disappointment. The narrator works hard at capturing Lancelot's Louisiana-Southern accent but misses the nuances of his very Southern sardonic humor and brings no gravity to his philosophical musings, which are the foundation for the startling ending. What we get is truly a babbling tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. I still hope that some day a great reader will come along to give this book the treatment it deserves.
1 of 3 people found this review helpful