Monday, October 20, 2014

How To Tell If You Are In A Walker Percy Novel

(With apologies to The Toast, whose series started it all.)

Thought Experiment: Walker Percy eyes you over a glass of bourbon. Do you: 
A. consider the aesthetic nature of bourbon and the superiority of drinking it straight?
B. wonder if bourbon can do for you what cake did for Proust?
C. raise a glass of your own?
You were married to a beautiful Southern girl. She dies. You marry a younger, depressed, beautiful Southern girl.

You have a rich interior life. Everyone else you know has a banal and happy existence. You alternately envy and pity them.

You are fascinated by the taste of real or imagined heavy metals in the air.

You wax poetic about your "lewd-longing." Warm, soft thighs pervade your daydreams.

You are/were/may be insane. If you're the protagonist or his love interest, there is a 50 percent chance you spent time in a mental ward or would not feel out of place there.

You cannot keep from drinking gin fizzes even though you break out in hives and collapse in the sand trap at the country club golf course every time you drink them.

You are equally dismissive of ardent Republicans and Democrats yet you see some value in their way of life — for being angry about politics is one sure way of knowing you are alive.

There inevitably comes a point when you slyly turn aside from one of your internal monologues to address the reader and let him in on a secret you've discovered.

You should have been a psychiatrist as you've analyzed what's wrong with everyone around you, yet can't figure out yourself.

You are a self-styled "physician of the soul" and have invented a handheld device to detect spiritual disorders.

Your Catholicism is a small part of your life but persistently resurfaces.

Your agnosticism would be better described as "the Search" for you truly Want To Believe, but cannot until the end of the book, maybe.

MALAISE. You have it and cannot be rid of it. It is part of your modern suburban/urban existence.

Even if writing listicles about authors whose characters have malaise had been a thing during Walker Percy's time, it would not have been of any use.


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