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Love in the Ruins

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  3,015 ratings  ·  244 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 St. Martin's Press (first published 1971)
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Stephanie Landsem I thought it was hilarious and brilliant . The social commentary was timeless and the character of Tom More is flawed and still I loved him not…moreI thought it was hilarious and brilliant . The social commentary was timeless and the character of Tom More is flawed and still I loved him not despite his flaws but because of them.(less)
Robert Irish I can see the devil idea. I wondered for a while whether he was actually a projection of Thomas More's own, but then Ellen made contact with him, so…moreI can see the devil idea. I wondered for a while whether he was actually a projection of Thomas More's own, but then Ellen made contact with him, so it appears he was "real" after all.(less)

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3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,015 ratings  ·  244 reviews

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Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, aere-perennius
“Jews wait for the Lord, Protestants sing hymns to him, Catholics say mass and eat him.”
― Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins


Every time I read Walker Percy I fall in love. I seduce myself into thinking I'm actually just a bad Catholic and promise myself that next time I get a chance I will lose myself in the desert, the woods, or anywhere I can see the cold stars and the burning sand and live forever somewhere in between.

Reading another Percy novel is like discovering an unopened can of cashews in
Mar 21, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
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
Nov 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Jason Lewis
Mar 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe the strangest book I've ever read.

this book is a perverse, pious, and odd angled look at the downfall of the American mind and American society. having just finished it, my head is spun with thoughts of the dislocated and disassociated nature of the prose and themes. I don't know if I should recommend it or bury it in the backyard for fear the children might stumble onto it. you'll have to decide for yourself.
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: catholic, literature
This was a weird one.

It's satire, surreal, sci fi, I would even call it screwball, but then at times the events and setting don't seem so ungrounded anymore. It just takes place in Louisiana not very far into the future from the novel's publication date of 1970.

A doctor named Thomas More works on a new 'lapsometer' that can read and influence the emotional state of the mind to some extent. Perhaps it can improve the state of the country, perhaps it will win him the Nobel prize, or perhaps it wil
Peter Mcloughlin
Walker Percy is a writer I read when I was attending a Jesuit University in the 1980s. I am a heathen these days but I am steeped in the traditions of the one true apostolic church. Percy writes from this familiar Catholic strain. I read his "lost in the Cosmos" and it struck a chord with me about the fallen condition and hope. Percy is writing a dystopian novel about a future a few decades after the time of writing from the vantage point of the early 1970s of an America which is extremely polar ...more
Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
A couple of years ago I read a lot of Walker Percy and loved his books. Reading Love in the Ruins - The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World now shows me again that there are times and conditions that are right or wrong for certain books. I've marked this book as "Read" though I stopped at 16%. (Thank you, Kindle.) I'd started it after a reference to it in somebody's essay somewhere. I didn't quite slot it in my "ugh" sub shelves because, after all, Walker Percy. But ...more
Christopher Fulbright
Jun 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: eschatology
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.
May 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Here is another slipstream/satire novel where the targets are The American South and America's political and religious troubles (at least as they were in the 70s, but it seems, at least to my own unschooled eye, to be the same troubles as today, only today we have more TV and internet). My friend Grieg said that Percy was trying to do what O'Connor did successfully. I suspect this statement is true. But behind it is another statement: which genre is more effective in asserting a morality (or bet ...more
Jul 20, 2009 marked it as backburner
Recommended to booklady by: Robert Moynihan
Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome, "Inside the Vatican Magazine" Newsflash, Letter from Rome, #22: 'I studied the works of Walker Percy, the American Catholic novelist, when I was in college, at Harvard. I went to meet Percy in 1977. His most important book is a collection of philosophical essays entitled The Message in the Bottle.

The entire goal of his writing was to show how the historical events of Christian history constituted a "message" which brought life to people who were in the posi
William Randolph
Dec 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Jerod H
May 13, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Scott Hutchins
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Leslie Jem
I have no idea what in the world I just read...
Eb Daniels
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At once philosophical study, religious treatise, and apocalyptic fiction, Love in the Ruins extrapolates modern society to its conclusion and envisions a hyperbolic United States on the eve of its own destruction. With constant wit, undeniable charm, and a pithy grasp of what constitutes the modern United States, Walker Percy lays bare the ills of society and intimates deftly at their solutions.

Love in the Ruins is fundamentally satirical, and is really less about the apocalypse than it is set
Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Well-written and it kept moving, but the story was too oddball for me and I couldn't enjoy it.
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dorothy McKnight
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Prophetic, insightful, dizzying.
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well, that was different. Quite good actually, but pretty strange. And daring in a way that probably couldn't be published today.
Harry Wingfield
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it
There is an interesting disconnect when you enter the "Tomorrowland" section of the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. You are seeing a vision of the future, but it is a vision steeped in the culture of the early 1970s, when the park opened. I had the same disconnect reading Love in the Ruins. Unlike George Orwell's timeless dystopian novel, 1984, Percy's vision of a dystopian future is firmly rooted in the early 1970s, when he wrote the book. I enjoyed the book well enough to read it to the en ...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
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
This is a cynical, farcical, joyful ride through the not-so-apocalyptic post-America. At the beginning, Percy tells us that the end of America has come, and what is left is a fractious, conceited, egoistic culture. The liberals have their manias, the conservatives theirs, and guerilla groups hold the perimeters of society. Hippies have withdrawn "to the swamp." Tom More is somewhere in the middle of it all--a bad Catholic whose only sorrow is his lack of penitence over his wicked ways.

Yet More i
Derek Emerson
This book disappointed after rereading it from many years prior. I'm a Percy fan, having reading all his novels and many essays, but suddenly this book seems dated. While the structure seems clumsy, Percy still handles the basic questions of who we are are and how we fit in society better than most. A Catholic convert, he has a critical yet sympathetic way of challenging the faith in a way that would make most Christians squirm. In short, he takes on the tough questions and is resolved to not un ...more
My second time through this novel has proven it more worthwhile than I'd first regarded it to be. Thus far, it is the most enjoyable of his novels--a bizarre chronicle of a mid-life crisis that has the humorous contrivance of being set at a time near the end of the world. There are angels and demons, angelism-bestialism, patient-therapists, lordly pilgrims and sovereign exiles that conspire, willingly or unwillingly, to bring Percy's vision of the predicament of twentienth-century western man to ...more
Chris Gager
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite at the level of previous work I suppose. Lighter and more "fun". Sort of Sci-Fi as was "The Thanatos Syndrome". It occurs to me that Richard Ford must be a fan of WP. Anyway, this one seemed to be taking place around a golf course in the South and things have deteriorated just "a bit" in American society. As with other WP books I've read this twice. Date read is for the second read. Good serious fun. Date read is guesswork.
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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
“Why did God make women so beautiful and man with such a loving heart?” 125 likes
“Jews wait for the Lord, Protestants sing hymns to him, Catholics say mass and eat him.” 33 likes
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