Over at ISI’s blog, Jennifer Hooten ranks Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer as #3 on her Five Books Every American Should Read list. Her summary of the novel runs through themes discussed at this blog e.g. homelessness, social selves.
Like The Moviegoer, Percy’s Love in the Ruins has the hero undergo a similar character development. Both novels also have secondary characters which are human signposts (Binx’s brother, More’s daughter) for the main characters. These human signposts or saints are absent in the later novels. Is Percy getting darker or is this a development of his ‘Indirect Communication’? He writes: “My theory (like Flannery’s) is that the times are such that the language of religion is so exhausted, de trop, that the tactic of the apologist must be indirect, perhaps even devious. More devious even than S[oren] K[ierkegaard]”
Percy and O’Connnor’s method has certainly made them amenable to Sophisticated or Secular Americans today, but it also makes them vulnerable to misinterpretation as well. Flannery O’Connor had to write a Note to the 2nd edition of Wise Blood in order to clarify its meaning. Their fictional worlds are strange lands so without a point in the right direction, the reader is likely to get lost.