LOVE IN THE RUINS
A fanciful, suggestible, strafingly comic view of man and all his manifestations at a future point in time when "Death is winning. Life is losing." And in terms of most readers, a more palpable and accessible book than The Moviegoer or The Last Gentleman. What will be happening -- what won't -- in an America divided is seen from Mr. Percy's native Louisiana and more particularly a Howard Johnson's at the "southwest cusp of the interstate cloverleaf." On the one hand you have the liberals and Knotheads (the old Republican Party although very little is coming out of the "Tel-a-Viv Hilton on Pennsylvania Avenue") and on the other the divers miscreants who live in the swampy outback -- black guerrillas, drugheads, Ku Kluxers, dropouts, communists, etc. All have dreadful physical complaints, suppurating from the soul and running in particular to and from the bowels -- "the real enemy is within, don't you think?" Tom More, our Bad Catholic, also a genius and a widower and a cuckold and a psychiatrist has, like his colleagues, "a few problems of (his) own, little rancors and terrors and such." He is holed up at the Howard Johnson's with three women who love him too much, two more than he can handle. In fact Tom has been institutionalized; he also has invented a Lapsometer which can diagnose and treat the "perturbations" of the soul and he is seeking official funding for it before the melee which takes place on a not so glorious Fourth of July. At the close, Tom is seen cultivating his garden of collards in a slave quarters but like his famous ancestor he has learned that "All any man needs is time and desire and the sense of his own sovereignty. As Kingfish Huey Long used to say: every man a king." As will have been apparent, it is impossible to indicate the range of Walker Percy's septic but indulgently appealing satire with its fallout of ideas and phenomena and magnificently funny moments. It is to be read -- and best read more than once.