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The Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy Paperback – May 17, 1998
"My Father, the Pornographer" by Fang Lizhi
A son tries to understand his late father, by reading the 400-plus novels left to him in his father's will. Check out "My Father, the Pornographer".
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is so much fun to see Foote trying for 50 years to get Percy to read Proust, and Percy simply ignoring the injunctions. This is just one of the ongoing literary 'wars' that are fought between these two significant writers who, while being diametrically different in style and theme, were the closest of friends from the age of 14.
I found that once started, I couldn't stop reading. From the first chatty letter from Foote in which he proposes his desire to be a great novelist to the last 'letter' - a message read at Percy's memorial service - the book has the forward momentum of a good novel, the intellectual give and take of a Platonic dialogue and the warmth and humor that only good friends can bring to lifelong disagreements. I think this is a great book and, for all who think that literature is important, a wonderful window into the thinking of two fine minds.
The reader of this book of letters between two friends will be thrilled by talk of literature. Foote is like Herr Settembrini of Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain". He is so overwhelmed by humantistic learning that he finds he must educate his friend and mentor Hans Castrop, in this case Walker Percy.
It is ironic that the prodigy in this case, Walker Percy, soon eclipses the mentor. Walker Percy agonizes in his early letters about his inability to have his novels published while Foote publishes his books in rapid succession. But today Percy's "Moviegoer" and other books are still read while only Foote's "Shiloh" is really still popular. It seems Foote is stuck with Civil War fame have written his long classic on the war.
Reading Foote's letters is where I discovered Flanney O'Connor. Walker Percy and Shelby Foote spoke highly of her here. They also talk about the important of reading Marcel Proust, Faulkner, and a dozen others. Toward the end Foote begins to spew forth on the merits of reading the Greek classics. It is his description of these books and their authors that adds to one's own literary education.
The first part of the book is a little annoying because Shelby Foote threw away the letters that Walker Percy sent to him for the first many years of their correspondence. So you keep reading Shelby Foote but are not privvy to what Walker Percy as to say.
A little advice to the prospective reader. Forgive Shelby Foote his apparent crankiness, which may be the most notable feature of this book. As other reviews note, Percy is absent through much of the volume. Foote's tone, already tinged with youthful didacticism, is transformed into a soliloquy which is boastful and (at times) rude.
Appearances may be misleading, however. While on the surface egotistical, Foote's often incisive letters betray far more complex motives. He searches for true conversation, for a way to gauge his art (his central pursuit). Percy may come across as aloof, or even vague, but this may be due to the hidden lifelong friendship behind these letters.
A wonderful read
An Anglophile to the core, Charles Peirce was the "father of pragmatism," but is the American experiment first and foremost "pragmatic"? Democracies are by definition pragmatically sloppy. Anglophilia is exclusive moving toward less and less slop. There is a strange inconsistency, therefore, not so much with Percy or with Foote who told CSPAN's Brian Lamb (www.c-span.org/video/?165823-1/depth-shelby-foote) that he consulted no original material in his Civil War histories...."it's all been gone over before," but with our acceptance of their definition of American exceptionalism.
Equally surprising from these letters is Walker Percy's flirtation with Charles Sanders Peirce. It's as if these two dyed and died in the wool Southern princes are like Margaret Mitchell....from the deep South, but Smith College educated!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book! It offers great information regarding these literary giants.Published 3 months ago by Jeffersonian
Foote was a vain, vulgar drunk posing as a southern gentleman. He was often broke and Percy sent him money to pay bills. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Barbara in Houston
I bought this book because of an enduring love affair with the literary works of Walker Percy. As an addition to the literary biographies of Percy written by Samway and Tolson,... Read morePublished on December 12, 2001 by Hunter Baker
This was a great read, but each of the correspondents disappointed in their own ways. Percy's letters are written in an intelligent but notably vague style; Foote's have more bite... Read morePublished on January 31, 2000