Love in the Ruins
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Love in the Ruins

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,837 ratings  ·  139 reviews
Dr. Tom More has created a stethoscope of the human spirit. With it, he embarks on an unforgettable odyssey to cure mankind's spiritual flu. This novel confronts both the value of life and its susceptibility to chance and ruin.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 4th 1999 by Picador (first published 1971)
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Jun 11, 2013 sckenda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those Interested in Comedy, Philosophy, Spirituality, and the Apocalypse
Dr. Thomas More is not made of the same material as his famous ancestor, St. Thomas More (“A Man for All Seasons”), martyr to Henry VIII and the author of “Utopia.” The modern Dr. More has never met a cause for which he would suffer inconvenience let alone death. Indeed, Dr. More suffers from alienation, existentialism, and doubt, yet he still clings to his Catholicism and whiskey.

Walker Percy, also wrote “The Moviegoer,” which won the National Book Award. Whereas Flannery O'Connor, another Sout...more
Nov 29, 2007 Nathan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: psychologists, alcoholics
This is Walker Percy at his misanthropic, self-hating Catholic best. The story centers around Thomas More, a self-professed "bad Catholic" who loves women and whiskey a lot more than God or his fellow man. (He basically could care less for his fellow man, and he'd probably choose his beloved Early Times over women as well). What makes him appealing is his grasp of the human condition that he is faced with, where people are continually estranged from themselves and their own swirling desires. So,...more
This is a great Catholic novel, and an excellent satire that still holds up. My favorite character: Father Kev Kevin, the ex priest who looks like Pat O'Brien and spends his working days at the Love Clinic sitting at the vaginal console reading Commonweal....if you get why this is funny, or even if you don't, but particularly if you do, read the book.
Capsule Review: Don't Read Walker Percy. Ever.

Longer Review: If somebody recommends this book (or any other of his books) to you, rest assured that that he will one day soon try to convince you that the Eagles really are rock n' roll. Afterwards, he will probably inflict some of his "poetry" on you. You know the kind of stuff I mean: four-line stanzas in ABAB that will inevitably rhyme the words "pain" with "insane," "soul" with "hole," "heart" with "apart," and "feel" with "unreal." Luckily, th...more
Christopher Jones
This is my favorite novel. The protagonist, Dr. Tom More, explores the possibility of simultaneously loving three women for different reasons while living in a world that is falling apart. Perhaps Percy's "Ruins" is a metaphor for the decline of our society and for Dr. More's mental illness. It isn't always clear to how much of More's paranoia is imagined, and how much is a product of his alcohol and allergy-induced visions. Percy's description of the decay of Southern Coastal society into armed...more
This books reads like some dumpster baby of Kierkegaard and Clancy (Yes, Tom Clancy).
The existential inquiries into man in the face of a culture whose pace or direction cares little for its constituents is, as in The Moviegoer, a wonderful one.
Unfortunate for the fool who picks up this book to do more with it than crush a pill bug, that is about 2% of the book. The rest is a poorly edited barebones satire of autumn-century America, and as is the case with nearly all satire, difficult to keep...more
William Randolph
This is certainly a strange book. I read this just after reading Peter Augustine Lawler's Postmodernism Rightly Understood, which cleared up the philosophy behind the book. My general impression is that in this book Percy is settling into a didactic mode, which I don't mind since I find the theory interesting. But it could be hard to just drop in if you don't know what Percy means by “angelism,” or what he thinks of Descartes. Generally, it seems like the actions of Percy's protagonists are inco...more
Too funny, and some of my favorite opening lines:

"Now in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I came to myself in a grove of young pines and the question came to me: has it happened at last? Two more hours should tell the story. One way or the other. Either I am right and a catastrophe will occur, or it won't and I'm crazy. In either case, the outlook is not so good. Here I sit, in any case, against a yo...more
Patrick Gibson
Continuing my personal Great Authors I Vaguely Remember Thinking About Reading, "Love in the Ruins," written in '71, imagines a U.S.A. in which prevalent (and sometimes contradictory) trends run to their illogical extremes -- political association becomes fragmented to the point of neo-tribalism, mainline churches become secularized to the point of banality or fixated to the point of intolerance, and psychological treatment grows increasing manipulative.
Into this world he drops Dr. Tom More, "b...more
Jacob Aitken
The story of a bad catholic at the end of the world. Dr Thomas More has invented the ontological lapsometer to diagnose the human soul. Through his (mis)adventures we get an eeirie, if darkly funny look into our current age.

What I noticed most from the book is the danger of spiritual religion. When men try to be more spiritual than Jesus, they become the opposite of what they intend to be. Percy uses More's demented form of Catholicism to rebut Protestant Gnosticism. He does a good job.

A quirky, absurdest, medical comedy set against the backdrop of the real-life oddity that is south Louisiana culture . An African American uprising, a sex laboratory (with a "panic" room), college educated hippies living in the swamp, a sniper in the abandoned golf club house, polygamy, Early Times whiskey... ...these are just some of the events and devices that Dr. Tom More encounters during the 3 day period over which the novel takes place.
With sharp wit and sound wisdom, Percy explores the f...more
Christopher Fulbright
Hard to justify the time spent writing this review but I can't just give something one star and not explain. I thought this story was slow and meandered too long without direction. There was too much introspection, it lacked a feeling of cohesion, and there was too little meaning for everything that was happening (which wasn't much) in the first 150 pages for me to justify spending any more time with it. I just didn't care and was bored out of my mind. I had hoped for more since I'd heard great...more
Scott Hutchins
I sometimes feel a little abashed to say how much I love this book, because if you're a serious literary person you can *only* like the Moviegoer. But Love in the Ruins is the first book I ever read by Percy, and I thought it was the smartest, funniest, oddest book--all dressed up in this hilarious country-club Southern accent. The world (the late 60s) is divided into Knotheads (conservatives in a delusional rage) and the Leftpapasanes (ineffective, muddied liberals). There's a great line: "The...more
Set in the crazy years following the Second Vatican Council, Love in the Ruins is a trenchant satire, one that oscillates its well-aimed commentary between bourgeois foolishness and an equally foolish emerging counterculture.

Our protagonist and guide through this literary landscape is psychiatrist Dr. Tom More (the saint who shares his name is a collateral ancestor). His former curate, the former Father Kev Kevin, is now married to a former nun. Kev “counsels . . . takes clinical notes, and runs...more
What was probably at one time a revolutionary, subversive and thought-provoking novel is now only a curiosity in the wake of better books by Vonnegut and Robbins and Wilson. I don't think that I will ever understand the tendency of stories from this era (the 1970s) to be so paranoid and winky. Then again, I wasn't alive at the time.

This is not to say that Percy is a bad writer, but I've come to expect more from my questionable narrators and post-apocalyptic scenarios.
Yes, it's a bit apocalyptic, but it makes me want to spend all my summer evenings frying down south, slurping gin fizzes and making love in abandoned hotels, meanwhile making revolutionary metaphysical discoveries.

"I believe in God and the whole business but I love women best, music and science next, whiskey next, God fourth and my fellowman hardly at all. Generally I do as I please."
Jan 29, 2009 Melody rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Melody by: Brian Johnson
I slogged through this only making it because of an occasional witty descriptive phrase. The story is about the collapse of a fragmented society. Dr. Tom More has invented a device (a lapsometer) which he believes can cure people from their demons. He has his own demons too.
Some will find his writing and the plot clever and brilliantly written. I found both very tedious.
Bryan Kibbe
There is no good introduction to the dystopian world of Paradise and the peculiar madness of Dr. Tom More; it's just something you will have to experience for yourself. To be sure, it's a wild ride, but one worth holding on to. For any philosophers and theologians out there (perhaps academics in general) you are sure to get a distinct pleasure from Percy's references to mind/body dualism, denominational identity, and the nature of academic research. Although the book has the arc of a story, it i...more
You can have no idea what a book is trying to say and still like it.
Lee Ann
74 pages in and I don't give a damn how it ends.
hillarious!! a southern vonegut
One of my favorite books of all time.
Walker Percy reminds me of a more down-to-Earth Kurt Vonnegut, perhaps more concerned with the human condition but not necessarily optimistic. This is also a somewhat uncommon case (for me) of liking the first half of a book better than the second. I guess I went into the book seeking a diagnostic for the waning sentiment of love in a modernized world, and I was more than satisfied in the beginning. However, the hysteria with the distribution of Dr. More's lapsometer signaled a shift in the mood...more
This one was rather hard for me to follow, probably because the events involved are related out of sequence, and the action takes place in an alternate reality in which More's world is similar, but it's history is different. In this history the United States has already broken up, to what extent I didn't quite understand, politics have become even more polarized than they are now, and religion seems to have become rather homogenized. There are obviously spiritual forces at work, seeming to cente...more
Percy's Love in the Ruins is a rambling Southern ride through four days that might be the end of the world in an America, familiar, but slightly altered. Here political, religious, and racial differences have exploded into violence, but suburban lifestyles continue. It is a not a tight plot, but the characters are wonderful and the story follows the wanderings of the narrator as he tries to regain footing in a faltering world. That narrator, Dr. Thomas More, lapsed Catholic and brilliant diagnos...more
Stephen Gallup
I first read Walker Percy in 1975 and thought he represented something new in American literature. I still think he was one of the significant writers of that era, and one with a lot more staying power than others who come to mind.

My personal problem with Percy is that I then read most or all of his books in fairly rapid succession, and since they all wrestle with the same general topic, I've gotten them mixed up. Currently, I have a little project of going through them again and sorting them o...more
To be honest I spent a lot of this book a little bit confused about what was going on. I didn't really grasp the setting and was unsure whether it was meant to be a sort of fictional world in the future, or whether some part of it was just taking place inside the troubled mind of a potential mental patient. I never really cleared that up, and it definitely affected my perception of the book.

It's not the most amazing book Percy has ever written, but it is suspenseful if nothing else. The beginni...more
An immensely philosophical novel set in Louisiana, Love in the Ruins comments on the inherent imperfection of life and life's purpose. It is equal parts satirical and dramatic -- beautifully written and cerebral. Percy sculpts his characters with renaissance focus, illuminating the subtle colors and tones a person can show by a twitch of the eye, a subtle movement, the strength or the fragility of their anatomy, and their habits and dialects. Dr. Tom More, the protagonist, is driven by lust, dri...more
Great book.

Funny, I prefer this book to The Moviegoer. It is much odder and the women are not so much the damaged Manic Pixie Dream Girl or 'I have a mental illness, but I am really just a total narcissist, who needs constant attention from everyone in my life', who I find annoying as hell.

The book is very odd, almost science fiction, while addressing race issues down South in a gentle, off-handed, but blunt manner. It is hard to describe how Percy pulls this off, but the book stands up to the t...more
While I liked Percy's "The Moviegoer" much better than "Love in the Ruins," it is still a very interesting novel. Set in some "future" (written in 1970), Doctor Thomas More - a full-believing Catholic who is also a womanizer and alcoholic - develops what he calls an "ontological lapsometer," a device that is supposed to cure the metaphysical conundrum modern humanity finds itself in (this is best explain by the first essay in his collection "The Message in a Bottle," which asks the question, 'wh...more
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Walker Percy (1916–1990) was one of the most prominent American writers of the twentieth century. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, he was the oldest of three brothers in an established Southern family that contained both a Civil War hero and a US senator. Acclaimed for his poetic style and moving depictions of the alienation of modern American culture, Percy was the bestselling author of six fiction t...more
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