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Love in the Ruins: A Novel + The Moviegoer + Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1 edition (September 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312243111
  • ASIN: B000S1KZRO
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #786,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A great adventure...So outrageous and so real, one is left speechless."--Chicago Sun Times

"Immensely readable, vividly entertaining."--Los Angeles Times

"Brilliant and hilarious . . . some of the most fascinating characters you'll ever encounter."--Dallas Morning News

"One of the major novels of our time."--Milwaukee Journal

From the Publisher

"A great adventure...So outrageous and so real, one is left speechless." --Chicago Sun-Times

"A comedy of love against a field of anarchy...Percy is easily one of the finest writers we have." --New York Times Book Review

"Immensely readable, vividly entertaining." --Los Angeles Times

"Brilliant and hilarious...some of the most fascinating characters you'll ever encounter." --Dallas Morning News

"One of the major novels of our time." --Milwaukee Journal


More About the Author

Walker Percy (1916-1990) was one of the most prominent American writers of the twentieth century. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, he was the oldest of three brothers in an established Southern family that contained both a Civil War hero and a U.S. senator. Acclaimed for his poetic style and moving depictions of the alienation of modern American culture, Percy was the bestselling author of six fiction titles--including the classic novel The Moviegoer (1961), winner of the National Book Award--and fifteen works of nonfiction. In 2005, Time magazine named The Moviegoer one of the best English-language books published since 1923.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Triesch on May 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
Originally written in the aftermath of the social upheavals of the 1960s, this book may seem dated to some. But if the specific social context has changed, the fragmentation of American society continues unabated, as does the crisis of the human spirit that this book describes and addresses. So, for me, the book remains supremely relevant, supremely perceptive, brilliantly written, and hilariously funny.

Set in the Deep South of an America in a virtual state of civil war and anarchy, "Love In The Ruins" follows the exploits of its flawed hero, Dr. Tom More, a boozing psychiatrist and lapsed Catholic. More has invented the lapsometer - a "stethoscope of the soul" - that enables people to both diagnose and treat their inner demons. But in the wrong hands, the lapsometer can wreak havoc, and much of the book traces More's efforts to keep the lapsomoter out of the hands of a government determined to use the lapsometer for its own nefarious purposes.

Percy brilliantly describes and satirizes the competing elements in this American Apocalypse - the country club conservatives, the "groovy" priests, the religious Right and Left, the technocrats, the sexologists, the racists, the Black revolutionaries, the drop-outs, and the sinister but bungling government bureaucrats who have their own vision of a "Brave New World."

From its masterful opening pages (which, contrary to another reviewer, I think are just about the best writing I've seen in modern American literature) this book will outrage partisans of the Left and Right while giving hope to those who try to occupy the "radical center" where the human spirit is defended against the predations of all the "isms" of the modern world.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Penn Jacobs on October 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Walker Percy died over a decade ago, leaving a small but dedicated readership. A dilettante whose interests ran from medicine and psychiatry (Percy was an M. D.) to semiotics, philosophy, and religion, we remember Percy for his slightly cantankerous (but never malicious) outlook on modernity and the human condition.
"Love in the Ruins," written in '71, imagines a U.S.A. in which prevalent (and sometimes contradictory) trends run to their illogical extremes -- political association becomes fragmented to the point of neo-tribalism, mainline churches become secularized to the point of banality or fixated to the point of intolerance, and psychological treatment grows increasing manipulative. Into this world he drops Dr. Tom More, "bad Catholic" and the inventor of the Ontological Lapsometer. The Lapsometer measures the degree to which a soul has fallen, the degree of estrangement and alienation it has attained. One particular sickness it detects is angelism/bestialism -- the tendency to go from spirit-like abstraction to animal appetite with little moderation. Like all technologies, the Lapsometer becomes a means of social and spiritual manipulation, and Dr. More and his device set in play a story that leads the world to the brink of apocalypse.
By turns desperate and hilarious, this readable novel holds up well today. I also recommend "Lost in the Cosmos," which contains many of the same ideas, but in more of a tragi-comic essay form.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Philip Blosser on July 13, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you like the Catholic Flannery O'Connor's depth analysis of human nature, and can endure its frequent morbidity; if you like Evelyn Waugh's sense of humor and thought The Loved One was amusing; try Walker Percy. Walker Percy is Evelyn Waugh on crack. And the place to start is with Percy's Love in the Ruins. It's not his first novel, or even the first to win him recognition (that would be his Moviegoer). But it's a tour-de-force analysis of the human condition in a Louisiana setting by a womanizing, semi-alcoholic, lapsed Catholic protagonist who, despite (or by means of?) the hyterical laughter of the reader, sheds new light at every turn on the human condition. One imagines the brilliant Percy, with twinkling eye, smiling down upon the event. (The next book to read must be Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book, a book unlike any other in the cosmos -- not a novel, but another absolute must-read!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David Marshall on March 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Is it a sci-fi tale about the end of the world, black comedy, novel of inner pilgrimage, or a southern small-town novel like To Kill a Mockingbird? All of these, and none, quite. You can catch snippetts of the plot and setting from other reviewers. But trying to squeeze this weird, topsy-turvy, yet familiar world into a few words is like trying to put the bubble bath back in the bottle. Ideas and images float up in flurries.

Or maybe we should define Love in the Ruins by its characters? Each is as brilliantly drawn as a blade of grass in the first bright rays of morning. Not all are mad, in the conventional sense, though Thomas More, the drunken, philandering, brilliant, pious hero, who somewhat resembles the author, sometimes is. "Dear God, let me out of here, back to the nuthouse where I can stay sane. Things are too naked out here. People look and talk and smile and are nice and the abyss yawns. The niceness is terrifying." Percy also offers three lovely leading ladies, a tribe of black revolutionaries, "love" scientists, "Knotheads," a "scoffing Irish behaviorist, in whom irony is so piled up on irony, jokes so encrusted on jokes, winks and nudges and in-jokes so convoluted" that he has turned orthodox, and a pretty spooky Satan in flannel.

Maybe the best way to introduce this book, aside from saying that it often made me laugh outloud, and often made me think, is to quote a few more lines. If you like the taste, want to sup more on the strangeness of life (the quality by which reality so often surpasses mere novels), you'll probably want to read the book.

(1) "Max the unbeliever, a lapsed Jew, believes in the orderliness of creation, acts on it with energy and charity.
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