[percy-l] Author David Madden on Percy at LSU

Henry Mills wppdirector at gmail.com
Sat Jul 25 08:41:22 EDT 2015

Dear Percy-L:

For those interested in a short vignette of Percy as remembered by 
author David Madden while Percy taught at LSU.  You can read more about 
Madden's literary career at the link at the bottom of the page, of 
particular interest being his encounters with Tennessee Williams and Ayn 

Henry Mills
Percy-L Administrator


...In 1968, Madden began 24 years of teaching at Louisiana State 
University. Living near him in Covington for a while was the writer 
Walker Percy, author of “Love in the Ruins” and other novels.

“He got on the faculty for just a quarter. I think his daughter was 
going to LSU,” Madden said. “He was a very quiet fellow. He would hold 
these deep philosophical discussions at his house. I don’t think he 
realized how deep into philosophy I was. I kind of wanted to be there, 
but I didn’t want to ask him.

“Anyway, he was very friendly to me. He wrote a comment on my novel 
‘Bijou,’ which is about being a movie usher in Knoxville, at age 12. 
Percy told him he thought it was better than “Huckleberry Finn.” “So 
naturally, I’m well-disposed to him,” Madden said.

“Anyway, I’d see him in the hallway (at LSU), going to class or the 
bathroom or wherever. He would walk close to the wall, with his head 
down, in a kind of saunter. He was a very handsome fellow. One time he 
said, ‘David, how do you write a novel?’ I’m so naive that you can ‘get’ 
me anytime you want me. But he wasn’t trying to ‘get’ me. So I took him 
at his word and started telling him how to write a novel.

“Afterward, I realized what he meant was, he was writing a new novel, it 
was like he didn’t know how to write a novel - which is exactly what 
every writer feels. When you start a new novel, you think, how do you 
write a novel?”

--from "David Madden, writing to all the great writers"
Paul Clark, /Black Mountain News/ 2:42 p.m. EDT July 16, 2015


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