[percy-l] Confessions of A Catholic Novelist: When water, bread, and blood aren't just water, bread and blood - William Giraldi

janetcantor37 at yahoo.com janetcantor37 at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 22 08:49:44 EDT 2015


Here I go again, a non Catholic, reading this long piece and offering my two cents.
I will only comment on these excerpts:
1. “Existential” is the always modish tag bandied about to describe the crisis of characters such as Binx and Kate, except that what ails them is much more particular, more personally dire than what that catchall, knee-jerk term denotes. “Despair” gets nearer the mark: It’s the term Binx himself employs throughout his telling. .. Percy doesn’t wallop you with the doctrinal understanding of “despair” (the sin of shunning God’s grace, the very sin for which Faustus is hurled hellward), and at times Binx prefers to call it “malaise,” that globetrotting “pain of loss” that restricts itself to no denomination, no theism: “The world is lost to you, the world and the people in it, and there remains only you and the world and you no more able to be in the world than Banquo’s ghost.” 
2.  You want the tension and the tremble that can happen when faith infiltrates fiction. But let it be achieved as Percy achieves it in The Moviegoer...
3. , Mary McCarthy admits: “I am not sorry to have been a Catholic”—“this sensuous life,” she calls it, and like Percy and O’Connor she speaks of “the sense of mystery and wonder,” of how in certain “exalted moments of altruism the soul was fired with reverence.” I’d like to second that: I am not sorry to have been a Catholic. An upbringing in the Church has, I suspect and hope, outfitted me well as a storyteller. In his essay “The Holiness of the Ordinary,” Percy contends that “whatever else the benefits of the Catholic faith, it is of a particularly felicitous use to the novelist,” and I’d like to second that, too. It gives a writer that dramatic itch for sin, for judgment and damnation, for the rottenness of the world and the holy in us all. 
The first excited me because it is so close to the way I read The Moviegoer.
The second I liked the way he expressed so succinctly what happens in The Moviegoer. It was probably what so moved me in the Epilogue.
The third is interesting  to me because it asserts that it was the mystery of faith that helped enrich the plots of certain Catholic novelists. And it is, I believe, helpful to understanding the way Percy constructed all of his novels. The secular pervades each story and only in the end does the preparation for  acceptance of grace come in. The stories are wild and goofy and, in the end, calm and predictability are there. It is this contrast between madness and that calm that gives us Percy's antic self and his ideal self and, instead of being a polemic, uses good storytelling to try to inch the reader to a better path.
Humbly,Janet Cantor
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