[percy-l] "Living as an Ex-Suicide" by Jessica Hooten Wilson
Henry P. Mills
wppdirector at gmail.com
Wed Jun 20 00:09:26 EDT 2018
For the group's reading and reflection. Certainly the recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade reveal how millions can be affected by the suicides of but two of us. Percy himself once remarked how he was at the time the only one in multiple generations in his family lineage to live beyond 70 due repeated suicides in his family.
***Jessica Hooten Wilson is an associate professor of literature and creative writing at John Brown University. She is the author of three books, including Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky & the Search for Influence and Reading Walker Percy's Novels.***
Living as an Ex-Suicide
by JESSICA HOOTEN WILSON <http://www.libertylawsite.org/author/jessica-hooten-wilson/>
JUNE 15, 2018
“The only cure for depression is suicide.” Walker Percy was not joking when he penned this line. The author himself was a survivor of suicide—though he did not attempt it. His grandfather and father both shot themselves at home; his mother either intentionally or not drove off of a bridge and drowned; and the first American Percy, Charles Percy, tied a kettle to his neck and also drowned.
Unlike his ancestors, Walker Percy lived a full life and died of prostate cancer at 74 years old. Why did they die but he lived? Because Percy chose to be a survivor, to find out not only why his father took his own life, but, as he put it, “to make damn sure it didn’t happen to [him].” This determination fueled his work. Percy wrote novel after novel trying to solve what Albert Camus called the only philosophical question, to be or not to be….
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