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Customer Review

10 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs down for poor writing, March 17, 2008
This review is from: The Thanatos Syndrome: A Novel (Paperback)
I've been looking forward to reading a Walker Percy novel for years now, but this book was an utter disappointment. While Percy is obviously widely admired and read, after reading this novel I fail to see or comprehend the reason for his popularity. It may be just a personal mismatch with his style - how else could I have had such a poor impression of this book, and yet so many people (and even good friends of mine) like his writing? For some reason though, this book did not sit well with me at all.

What bothered me most was that many parts of the plot seemed entirely unrealistic. For instance, after seeing two patients, the protagonist already starts speaking of a "syndrome". After *two* patients?? Where did he come up with the idea of a syndrome that quickly? Moreover, the way the patients were described in the book, to me as a reader the similarities between the patients were not even apparent - the logical leap to a "syndrome" seemed utterly unwarranted. Another example is when Lucy uses the computer to find out all the information they need, very quickly and effortlessly. If it was that easy, why didn't anyone else already do it, such as the government? Is it really realistic that such a GP like Lucy would have had access to all that information, or that she would have had such high security clearance? That whole information gathering was just too convenient and complete to be realistic - within what seemed like 15 minutes they had basically solved the entire mystery of what was going on in the city. Lucy also seemed to have way too much knowledge about random bits of chemistry, politics and government structure at that point. A futher example: if there was mass sexual abuse going on at the school, it was unrealistic that it would not have been discovered by any other adults - surely, at least some of the children would have alerted their parents, even inadvertently, to such goings-on - especially if they were so willing to cooperate with the abuse, as Lucy reported. Wouldn't anyone else have noticed that any of the children were acting strange?

In addition, some of the characters seem to go "in and out of character" in the book, rather than remaining consistent - even their language is not always consistent, and there are random slips into local soutnern accent, but these are not convincing.

This book failed to draw me into its created world, because I was continually bothered by the logical incoherences and stylistic flaws...and for that reason, I could not fully appreciate the deeper lessons that the author apparently attempted to make here about the nature of evil and the human heart. Alas, I no longer plan to become a Walker Percy reader.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 18, 2011 9:35:39 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 18, 2011 9:36:16 PM PDT
Are you aware that Walker Percy was an MD before becoming a novelist, and that he spent his entire life in the South? Perhaps the real reason you didn't like this book is because of its trenchant expose of what John Paul II called "the culture of death."

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 10, 2011 10:44:48 PM PDT
Neil Ford says:
Don't you know the liberals want to rape your children?
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