Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Conversations with Walker Percy

Conversations with Walker Percy Edited by Lewis A. Lawson and Victor A. Kramer. University Press of Mississippi, 1985.

Walker Percy was a great novelist. He won the National Book Award for his first novel, The Moviegoer. He was also a moralist, a philosopher, and a Christian thinker. Some might know that he was a great conversationalist. This aspect of Percy comes out in this wonderful selected interviews with Walker Percy over the years. The majority of his works are covered in these conversations. I think the only work not covered is The Thanatos Syndrome. The first interview occurs in 1961. The last interview takes place in 1984.

One can learn a lot a about Percy in these interviews. One thing that comes out is that he is an excellent interpreter of his work. A second thing is that he likes to ask the interviewers questions. A third aspect is that Percy is a likable person. You can tell the interviewers like him. Fourthly, it is like listening in on a discussion of the great ideas.

Here are some samples of Percy's comments:

"I'm not an activist, a racial activist. I don't march in picket lines, but I am completely convinced of the rightness of the Negro struggle for civil rights. My writings I think reflect this, and I don't mind saying so."

"I think that serious novel writing, that serious art, is just as important, and just as cognitive; it concerns areas of knowing, of discovering and knowing, just as much as in any science."

"All I can say is, as a writer you have a certain view of man, a certain view of the way it is, and even if you don't recognize it or even if you disavow such a view, you can't escape that view or lack of view. I think your writing is going to reflect this. I think my writings reflect a certain basic orientation toward, although they're not totally controlled by Catholic dogma."

Reading these interviews is like having Percy over for dinner and having a conversation with him.

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