Friday, March 04, 2011

The Last Gentleman

The Last Gentleman is a novel written in 1966 by Walker Percy. There is a short summary here. The Paris Review has an interview with Percy in which he describes the main character in this novel as being "in pilgrimage without quite knowing it—doing a Kierkegaardian repetition, that is, going back to his past to find himself, then from home and self to the West following the summons of a queer sort of apostle, mad Doctor Sutter." There is a review here and also some good links to related articles.

from the back of the book:
Williston Bibb Barrett is the last gentleman, a twenty-five-year-old wanderer from the South who suffers from a nervous condition that his doctor associates with his inability to fit into "the group." Presently working in New York as a humidification engineer in the basement of Macy's, he is a young man with no plans for the future and detached roots from his past.

It is the simple purchase of a telescope one summer day changes his life.

While searching for an elusive peregrine falcon in Central Park, Will accidentally spots a young woman "dark as a gypsy" and falls madly and hopelessly in love. And so begins the last gentleman's quest for home, identity, and the meaning of contemporary life.

This is the 2nd book I've read by this author -I've read The Moviegoer- and I enjoy the way he writes. When I opened it and started to read, though, I realized I'd read it before. I don't like his writing enough to re-read this. So many books, so little time.