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  • From: "Karl M. Terrell" <kterrell AT>
  • To: "Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion" <percy-l AT>
  • Subject: RE: [percy-l] New reader
  • Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 09:32:40 -0400

Eloquently put. Didn't he describe his affinity for his chosen hometown
in Louisianna because it was "not a place," or some words to that
effect? A location, if you will, somewhat under the radar of the
fastest and heaviest "particles" of past and present?

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert_Pauley AT [mailto:Robert_Pauley AT]
Sent: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 1:34 AM
To: percy-l AT
Subject: RE: [percy-l] New reader

I didn't keep a copy of my letter, which probably would cause me
embarrassment now, though of course I still have his, which was written,
I later learned, in the midst of illness. You touch on Southern writers
and writing. Percy had little patience for the idea or the identity. I
sympathize. I think the attempts to explain it drew attention away from
his themes of dislocation, which though universal were new to the closed
and dour world of the alienists up to then. His merry and genteel
incisiveness was entirely unique -- such as the strange and comic whys
and hows of feeling bad in a "good" environment and vice versa. His
remark that Sartre, brooding in French cafes over the human condition,
was really the happiest man in France, was great stuff. What is so
Southern about that? He wrote about the difficulty of inhabiting any
place in this modern world, besieged as one finds oneself by the
"ravenous particles" of past and present, of hauntedness on one hand and
an unnamable depression over the "good life," whether in Short Hills or
Savannah. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in The Last Gentleman,
through young Barrett's picaresque and protracted ontological torment
across the country. Every place holds perils. The South is simply where
past impinges more oppressively on present than any other place, or at
least did in his day; it was the perfect hothouse for development of
this dilemma of being. Where, Percy may have been asking, can a man live
at all, and how? Is it better to be crawling into a cave in North
Carolina to escape his life as Barrett tried to do or watching MASH
reruns in a clinic in New Mexico, where Sutter ended up.

I loved his essay on "place" (I think it is in the Signposts volume) as
well as his self-interview on being a Southern writer, which say it all.

Regards, Rip P.

-----Original Message-----
From: percy-l-bounces AT
[mailto:percy-l-bounces AT] On Behalf Of Karl M. Terrell
Sent: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 2:58 PM
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion
Subject: RE: [percy-l] New reader

I envy you for the personal letter you received from Percy. I once
wrote a letter to the man, many years ago, but lost my nerve and never
sent it. I hope I threw it away. I imagine I would be embarrassed to
read the thing if, while rummaging, it turns up one day.


-----Original Message-----
From: Robert_Pauley AT [mailto:Robert_Pauley AT]
Sent: Monday, June 28, 2004 9:11 PM
To: percy-l AT
Subject: RE: [percy-l] New reader


I agree heartily. I came upon Percy one day in a funk in the Blue Ridge
mountains of North Carolina reading about Will Barrett in a funk in the
Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It couldn't have been a more
perfect "man on the train" moment. Second Coming remains my favorite,
the sweetest of his books I believe. I really think I got through that
year because of Percy -- every page was laughter rich with recognitions.
I wrote Percy and told him this, and the gentleman wrote me back, a
nice, long letter.

Rip P.

-----Original Message-----
From: percy-l-bounces AT
[mailto:percy-l-bounces AT] On Behalf Of Karl M. Terrell
Sent: Wednesday, June 23, 2004 5:51 PM
To: Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion; Percy-L: Literary
and Philosophical Discussion
Subject: Re: [percy-l] New reader

* * This communication is CONFIDENTIAL * *

I have enjoyed the few entries I've read here over the past few months
since joining in. Anything to do with Percy fascinates me. However, I
must confess, my interest has little to do with Percy's language theory
(at least not the technical aspects thereof), nor am I that interested
in the 'Catholic' issues (I am much too 'lapsed' in this area, as are
many of Percy's protagonists).

I am, instead, simply a fan of his magnificently fluid prose, his
trenchant observations on human nature, and his characters who -- while
dangerously alienated -- have struck me always as satisfyingly in tune
with the rhythm of life as it ought to be. Also, as a Southerner
introduced to Percy when I was a student at Chapel Hill 30 years ago, I
feel very much at home with Mr. Percy.

Binx Bolling was my Holden Caulfield. His later heroes were mine in my
later life.

I would enjoy hearing from Percy afficianados of similar ilk.



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Visit the Walker Percy Project at

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