Up until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t have told you who he was. A baseball player? A politician? But everybody I’ve asked about Walker Percy since ordering The Moviegoer has recognized his name instantly. “Walker Percy!” they exclaim.
I should get out more often.
Now a few layers of serendipity …
Only five or six pages in, I realized that Moviegoer was reminding me of John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, one of my all-time favorite novels.
As it turns out, Percy was responsible for getting Dunces published. Toole’s mother had persuaded Percy to read her dead son’s manuscript, which he’d been very reluctant to do. As Percy wrote in the forward to Dunces, he’d had no desire “to deal with the mother of a dead novelist and, worst of all, to have to read a manuscript that she said was great.”
But he did read it and he did get in published in 1980. The next year, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Thank you, Walker. For everything.