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Why I took to Percy

Timothy King (tcking@USIT.NET)

Just three of the many reasons that I took to Walker Percy:

(1) I was raised in a rural Missionary Baptist church. Missionary Baptists
make Southern Baptists look like left-wing radicals. Catholics were
especially vilified. It was a real eye opener to read works from a southern
Catholic. (As much an eye opener as dating a Catholic girl from upstate New
York and attending her brother's wedding. They drank BEER and WINE
at the reception that was held IN THE CHURCH BASEMENT!!!)

(2) Likely due to his medical training, Percy acknowledges that brain
physiology can influence behavior and perceptions (i.e., "Love in the
Ruins", "The Thanatos Syndrome").

(3) Percy's characters struggle with philosophical issues while leading
mundane lives (i.e, the stock broker engaged in "the search").

I'm probably not the typical subscriber to this list. I have an M.S. degree in
Physiological Psychology, but have spent my career (11 years) in software
engineering. How did this happen? My graduate research required automated
data collection using micro-computers. There were no software packages to do
this at the time, so I developed my own. I soon discovered that I enjoyed the computer programming more than the actual research, and I've been lucky enough to make
a living out of software engineering since graduate school.

In addition to my attraction to science and technology, I have always loved
the humanities. As an undergraduate, I took as many literature and
philosophy classes as I could without alarming my Skinnerian psychology
professors. (I took Behavior Modification and Existential Philosophy the
same semester!). My wife is an Asst. Prof. at the University of Tennessee,
so I've been able to continue my humanities education at a discount rate.

Being from the South, I've always been interested in southern fiction
(whatever that means). In 1986 or 87, I read a review of Richard Ford's
novel "The Sportswriter". The reviewer noted similarities in Ford's Frank
Bascombe and Walker Percy's Binx Bolling. I had never heard of Ford or
Percy, but as soon as I finished "The Sportswriter", I read "The Moviegoer"
and was blown away. I have since read every Percy novel. (By the way, Ford
is pretty good too.)

Tim King
Knoxville, Tennessee

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