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Love in the Ruins Paperback – Unabridged, September 4, 1999
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“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 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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
"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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A blatant mark of poor writing is the use of crude or titillating sexual references and undertones to attempt to keep the reader's interest. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Mountain K9iner
An excellent dystopia, very relevant for today. It follows Thomas More, the psychologist, who has invented a machine to measure whether someone's angelic or demonic side is too... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Obiwanky
Quite a satire. Eerily relevant to the present. Not so good for women readers.Published 3 months ago by M Suzanne Renna
The title is somewhat accurate in describing the rough and crazy narrator. What really flops is his attempt to hold the fantastic, dystopian story together. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Pat
Quite profound, prescient, and funny book for having so much sex in it.Published 5 months ago by Bob T.
Percy has to be read to believed. Reading Percy is a game changer.Published 6 months ago by E. E. Negron
Walker Percy wrote four exceptional books during his distinguished career. The two novels, Love in the Ruins and The Second Coming, Lost in the Cosmos, which he referred to... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Phillip T Stephens