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Percy, Walker

Entry updated 12 August 2018. Tagged: Author.

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(1916-1990) US doctor and author, whose first publications, beginning in 1954, were studies in language as a symbolic sign system (a line of thought that led him early into semiotics); his novels – the best known of which remains his first, The Moviegoer (1961) – reflect a searchingly liberal and Catholic reading of American life. Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World (1971), the first volume of the Dr Tom More series, is a long, complex Near-Future story set in a 1980s America suffering technological decay, and almost certainly in no real position to benefit from the Invention by the narrator – distantly related to Sir Thomas More, author of Utopia – of an insanity-curing device. It is continued thematically in The Thanatos Syndrome (1987), set in the 1990s, where the threat of AIDS has unleashed in America a government eager to lock the ill into coercive Keeps, and to engage in enforced euthanasia. The thematic similarities between this novel and the climax of Thomas M Disch's The MD: A Horror Story (1991) may show a direct influence, but certainly suggest a shared Catholic sensibility. The speculative pieces assembled in Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book (coll 1983) are mostly nonfiction, but the end of the book slips into sometimes uneasy sf, though some of its self-designated Thought Experiments are sharp, if zany. [JC]

Walker Percy

born Birmingham, Alabama: 28 May 1916

died Covington, Louisiana: 10 May 1990



Dr Tom More



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