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The United States seems to be on the brink of catastrophe. From the abandoned cars littering the highways (no one remembers how to fix them) to the endless hours spent on the golf course (now open twenty-four hours for those who can’t bother to wait until daylight to putt) to the starkly polarized political and religious factions dividing the country (which are increasingly difficult to tell apart), it is startlingly evident that the great experiment of the American Dream has failed.
The only problem is that no one has noticed. No one, that is, except Dr. Thomas More.
Dr. More, an alcoholic, womanizing, lapsed-Catholic psychiatrist, has invented the lapsometer: a machine capable of diagnosing and curing the spiritual afflictions that are speeding society toward its inevitable collapse. If used correctly, the lapsometer could make anxiety, depression, alienation, and racism things of the past. But, in the wrong hands, it could propel the nation even more quickly into chaos.
Hailed as “vividly entertaining” by the Los Angeles Times and “profoundly moving” by the Milwaukee Journal, Love in the Ruins is a towering, mind-bending work of satirical speculative fiction by the National Book Award–winning author of The Moviegoer.
Filled with quizzes, essays, short stories, and diagrams, Lost in the Cosmos is National Book Award–winning author Walker Percy’s humorous take on a familiar genre—as well as an invitation to serious contemplation of life’s biggest questions. One part parody and two parts philosophy, Lost in the Cosmos is an enlightening guide to the dilemmas of human existence, and an unrivaled spin on self-help manuals by one of modern America’s greatest literary masters.
Published just after Walker Percy’s death, Signposts in a Strange Land takes readers through the philosophical, religious, and literary ideas of one of the South’s most profound and unique thinkers. Each essay is laced with wit and insight into the human condition. From race relations and the mysteries of existence, to Catholicism and the joys of drinking bourbon, this collection offers a window into the underpinnings of Percy’s celebrated novels and brings to light the stirring thoughts and voice of a giant of twentieth century literature.
Winner of the National Book Award for The Moviegoer, the Southern writer Walker Percy possessed “an intellectual range and rigor few American novelists can match” (The New York Times Book Review). In these two provocative works, Percy manages to be perceptive and playful as he more directly explores the philosophical foundations of his groundbreaking fiction.
The Message in the Bottle: In these profound and passionate essays that “have a way of quickening the spirit and cleansing the sight,” Percy looks to language to answer the question of who we are as humans (The New Republic). He posits that the act of assigning meaning by naming things makes humans unique. Percy develops a theory of language through the example of Helen Keller being stimulated by the feel of water along with the sign for water, and explores questions such as why other animals don’t talk and why humans in technologically advanced, materially comfortable societies are so sad.
“A delight . . . a pleasure to read.” —Larry McMurtry, The Washington Post Book World
Lost in the Cosmos: “Charming, whimsical, slyly profound,” Lost in the Cosmos is a one-of-a-kind mix of self-help parody and philosophical speculation (The New York Times). Filled with quizzes, essays, short stories, and diagrams, Percy’s guide is a laugh-out-loud spin on a familiar genre that also pushes readers to serious contemplation of life’s biggest questions, such as: “Why is it no other species but man gets bored?” and “Explain why Moses was tongue-tied and stagestruck before his fellow Jews but had no trouble talking to God.”
“A mock self-help book designed not to help but to provoke; a chapbook to inveigle us into thinking about who we are and how we got into this mess.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A modern knight-errant on a quest after evil; grotesque, convincing and chilling.” —The New York Times Book Review
Fed up with the excesses of the 1970s, Lancelot Andrews Lamar, a liberal lawyer and distinguished member of the New Orleans gentry, is determined to stop the modern world’s ethical collapse. His quest begins with his wife—an actress who he suspects has been cheating on him for years. Though he initially plans only to gather proof of her infidelity, Lancelot quickly descends into a fog of obsession. And as he crosses the line from sanity into madness, he will try once and for all to purify the world or destroy it in the attempt.
Mesmerizing and unforgettable, Lancelot is a masterful story of one man’s collision with the follies of modern culture, and a thought-provoking look at the nature of good and evil.
Before winning the National Book Award for fiction in 1962, Walker Percy was an established scholar of science, philosophy, and language. Presented here are his strongest essays in those subjects, offering what he called a “theory of man for a new age.” Ambitious yet readable, The Message in the Bottle encapsulates the philosophical foundations of his groundbreaking novels, perfect for Percy fans and new readers alike. From discussions on the dislocation of man in the twentieth century to theories on why humans talk while other animals do not, thisis an enlightening collection from one of the South’s most celebrated writers.
In The Last Gentleman, Will Barrett has never felt at peace. After moving from his native South to New York City, Will’s most meaningful human connections come through the lens of a telescope in Central Park, from which he views the comings and goings of the eccentric Vaught family. But Will’s days as a spectator end when he meets the Vaught patriarch and accepts a job in the Mississippi Delta as caretaker for the family’s ailing son, Jamie. Once there, he is confronted not only by his personal demons, but also his growing love for Jamie’s sister, Kitty, and a deepening relationship with the Vaught family that will teach him the true meaning of home.
And in The Second Coming, now in his late forties, Will Barrett lives a life other men only dream of. Wealthy from a successful career on Wall Street and from the inheritance of his deceased wife’s estate, Will is universally admired at the club where he spends his days golfing in the North Carolina sun. But everything begins to unravel when, without warning, Will’s golf shots begin landing in the rough, and he is struck with bouts of losing his balance and falling over. Just when Will appears doomed to share the fate of his father—whose suicide has haunted him his whole life—a mental hospital escapee named Allison might prove to be the only one who can save him.
From the New York Times–bestselling author of The Moviegoer, these novels have been acclaimed by Time magazine for “irony, understatement, and compassion” and praised by the New York Times as “wonderfully good reading.”