17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Is it a sci-fi tale about the end of the world, black comedy, novel of inner pilgrimage, or a southern small-town novel like To Kill a Mockingbird? All of these, and none, quite. You can catch snippetts of the plot and setting from other reviewers. But trying to squeeze this weird, topsy-turvy, yet familiar world into a few words is like trying to put the bubble bath back in the bottle. Ideas and images float up in flurries.
Or maybe we should define Love in the Ruins by its characters? Each is as brilliantly drawn as a blade of grass in the first bright rays of morning. Not all are mad, in the conventional sense, though Thomas More, the drunken, philandering, brilliant, pious hero, who somewhat resembles the author, sometimes is. "Dear God, let me out of here, back to the nuthouse where I can stay sane. Things are too naked out here. People look and talk and smile and are nice and the abyss yawns. The niceness is terrifying." Percy also offers three lovely leading ladies, a tribe of black revolutionaries, "love" scientists, "Knotheads," a "scoffing Irish behaviorist, in whom irony is so piled up on irony, jokes so encrusted on jokes, winks and nudges and in-jokes so convoluted" that he has turned orthodox, and a pretty spooky Satan in flannel.
Maybe the best way to introduce this book, aside from saying that it often made me laugh outloud, and often made me think, is to quote a few more lines. If you like the taste, want to sup more on the strangeness of life (the quality by which reality so often surpasses mere novels), you'll probably want to read the book.
(1) "Max the unbeliever, a lapsed Jew, believes in the orderliness of creation, acts on it with energy and charity. I, the believer, having swallowed the whole Thing, God Jews Christ Church, find the world a mad-house and a madhouse home. Max the atheist sees things like Saint Thomas Aquinas, ranged, orderly, connected up."
(2) "Ethel's car is both Japanese and Presbyterian, thrifty, tidy, efficient, chaste."
(3) "The terror comes from piteousness, from good gone wrong and not knowing it, from Southern sweetness and cruelty . . . In Louisianna people still stop and help strangers. Better to live in New York where life is simple, every man's your enemy, and you walk with your eyes straight ahead."