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Love in the Ruins Paperback – Sep 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Picador USA; 1 edition (Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312243111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312243111
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2.9 x 21 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 343,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 49 reviews
109 of 111 people found the following review helpful
An American Apocalypse - A Black Comedy Of The Spirit 25 May 2005
By Stephen Triesch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Originally written in the aftermath of the social upheavals of the 1960s, this book may seem dated to some. But if the specific social context has changed, the fragmentation of American society continues unabated, as does the crisis of the human spirit that this book describes and addresses. So, for me, the book remains supremely relevant, supremely perceptive, brilliantly written, and hilariously funny.

Set in the Deep South of an America in a virtual state of civil war and anarchy, "Love In The Ruins" follows the exploits of its flawed hero, Dr. Tom More, a boozing psychiatrist and lapsed Catholic. More has invented the lapsometer - a "stethoscope of the soul" - that enables people to both diagnose and treat their inner demons. But in the wrong hands, the lapsometer can wreak havoc, and much of the book traces More's efforts to keep the lapsomoter out of the hands of a government determined to use the lapsometer for its own nefarious purposes.

Percy brilliantly describes and satirizes the competing elements in this American Apocalypse - the country club conservatives, the "groovy" priests, the religious Right and Left, the technocrats, the sexologists, the racists, the Black revolutionaries, the drop-outs, and the sinister but bungling government bureaucrats who have their own vision of a "Brave New World."

From its masterful opening pages (which, contrary to another reviewer, I think are just about the best writing I've seen in modern American literature) this book will outrage partisans of the Left and Right while giving hope to those who try to occupy the "radical center" where the human spirit is defended against the predations of all the "isms" of the modern world.
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
societal fragmentation, angelism/bestialism, psychotherapy 5 Oct. 2002
By Penn Jacobs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Walker Percy died over a decade ago, leaving a small but dedicated readership. A dilettante whose interests ran from medicine and psychiatry (Percy was an M. D.) to semiotics, philosophy, and religion, we remember Percy for his slightly cantankerous (but never malicious) outlook on modernity and the human condition.
"Love in the Ruins," written in '71, imagines a U.S.A. in which prevalent (and sometimes contradictory) trends run to their illogical extremes -- political association becomes fragmented to the point of neo-tribalism, mainline churches become secularized to the point of banality or fixated to the point of intolerance, and psychological treatment grows increasing manipulative. Into this world he drops Dr. Tom More, "bad Catholic" and the inventor of the Ontological Lapsometer. The Lapsometer measures the degree to which a soul has fallen, the degree of estrangement and alienation it has attained. One particular sickness it detects is angelism/bestialism -- the tendency to go from spirit-like abstraction to animal appetite with little moderation. Like all technologies, the Lapsometer becomes a means of social and spiritual manipulation, and Dr. More and his device set in play a story that leads the world to the brink of apocalypse.
By turns desperate and hilarious, this readable novel holds up well today. I also recommend "Lost in the Cosmos," which contains many of the same ideas, but in more of a tragi-comic essay form.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Evelyn Waugh on crack 13 July 2006
By Philip Blosser - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you like the Catholic Flannery O'Connor's depth analysis of human nature, and can endure its frequent morbidity; if you like Evelyn Waugh's sense of humor and thought The Loved One was amusing; try Walker Percy. Walker Percy is Evelyn Waugh on crack. And the place to start is with Percy's Love in the Ruins. It's not his first novel, or even the first to win him recognition (that would be his Moviegoer). But it's a tour-de-force analysis of the human condition in a Louisiana setting by a womanizing, semi-alcoholic, lapsed Catholic protagonist who, despite (or by means of?) the hyterical laughter of the reader, sheds new light at every turn on the human condition. One imagines the brilliant Percy, with twinkling eye, smiling down upon the event. (The next book to read must be Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book, a book unlike any other in the cosmos -- not a novel, but another absolute must-read!
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Apocalypse, fairy tale, farce -- what is this thing? 16 Mar. 2006
By David Marshall - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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."
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The funniest book I've ever read. 25 Jan. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Maybe it's best to start with what this book is not about. It's not about race. Or at least it's not about race to the extent that a Southern writer in the 60's could write about other things. True Walker Percy fans are a highly intellectual, serious crowd; he's one of the few American existentialists who can compare with the Europeans (John Updike?). For that reason, most of the Percy crowd doesn't really love this book. It's too funny. I, however, am not really an existentialist, and did not really enjoy (although I did respect) his more famous books, like the Moviegoer or the Last Gentleman. This book was like reading a legitimately highbrow John Irving novel.
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