WALKER PERCY QUOTE: THE SUBJECT ISN’T PLEASANT BUT THE WRITING IS SUBLIME

The quote below, from The Moviegoer  is among the most quietly visceral Every Man passages I’ve ever read. So accurate, so clinical, so very human.  The protagonist, a young New Orleans investment counselor, is standing on the library steps talking to a woman friend he happened to run into.

“…To our utter amazement we discovered that we both have the same life-goal. Do you know what it is?” “No.” “To make a contribution, however small, and leave the world just a little better off.” “That’s very good,” I say somewhat uneasily and shift about on the library steps. I can talk to Nell as long as I don’t look at her. Looking into her eyes is an embarrassment. “—we gave the television to the kids and last night we turned on the hi-fi and sat by the fire and read The Prophet aloud. I don’t find life gloomy!” she cries. “To me, books and people and things are endlessly fascinating. Don’t you think so?” “Yes.” A rumble has commenced in my descending bowel, heralding a tremendous defecation. Nell goes on talking and there is nothing to do but shift around as best one can, take care not to fart, and watch her in a general sort of way: a forty-year-old woman with a good open American face and another forty years left in her; and eager, above all, eager, with that plaintive lost eagerness American college women get at a certain age.

Photo of Walker Percy is from encyclopediaofalabama.org

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