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"It is not for me to say whether one should try to be happy -- although it always struck me as an odd pursuit, like trying to be blue-eyed--"
--Walker Percy, The Thanatos Syndrome.
Probably 3.5 stars. Not my favorite Walker Percy, and definitely not the one to start with. It starts with dark humor and absurdism and twists into a creepy weird horror show and slowly wades the reader back out.
I get what Percy was doing here. I really do. I get the metaphor, but ye gads, it wasn't exactly a joyride. There were parts I absolutely adored. So, if you have never read Percy, kick this one down your list. If, however, you have already read The Moviegoer, Love in the Ruins, The Second Coming, sure, yeah, knock your self out. Just look out. It is like eating a 7 Pot Primo pepper. Sucker is going to burn, kick, and sting.
Ultimately, Percy gives away his big point with a flashback from the crazy priest sitting in the watchtower. The mad priest and Dr. Tom More discuss modernism, psychology, and the rise of the Nazi bureaucracy in the early 20th century. The point I think Walker is trying to convey in most of his books is the Modern World, with its technologies, drugs, philosophies, etc., has kind of left us unprotected. Some of those things that seem, from a utilitarian view, to improve our lives will probably end up deadening our existence. The one institution that might be able to warn us, protect us, provide some level of comfort and security after we have been stripped bare by Modernism -- the Church -- is starved, weakened and almost unable to give us the basic rituals and nourishment we need to combat the technocrats, bureaucracies, and wicked forces that latch onto Modernism (I don't think Percy is arguing that Modernism itself is evil, simply that it efficiently plows the ground for evil seeds). Anyway, this is Percy's BIG THEME and he just hits it really hard, over and over, in this book.
12 of 15 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
Not in this form. The reader has obviously never set foot in Louisiana or he would have been able to pronounce Ponchartrain (as in the lake), Tunica and (for God's sake ) New Orleans. His faux southern accent set my teeth on edge and ruined this Walker Percy novel.
What other book might you compare The Thanatos Syndrome to and why?
This book reminded me of several books I have read which focus on environmental tampering by persons wanting to "better" humanity.
Would you be willing to try another one of David Hilder’s performances?
Never, never, never! Note to Mr. Hilder- only in bad movies or on television do people say
"Nawlins" for New Orleans. People from Louisiana doe not say this-ever!!!!
Was The Thanatos Syndrome worth the listening time?
I love Wlaker Percy but will go back to reading rather than listening to his books. Actually this book would have been very good with a reader like Will Patton or Dick Hill.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful