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Love in the Ruins

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,341 ratings  ·  280 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 USA (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 despit…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 i…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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Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aere-perennius, 2015
“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
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.
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.
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 pos
Simon Robs
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I just love it when books and other times do sometimes intersect even in small but still noticeable ways. This one is under the radar good, funny and sad, but mostly funny, oh and often insightful/satirical, just the human dilemma played out through many 'oh this again.'
Steven R. McEvoy
I had a hard time reading this book. I put it down a number of times and it took me a month to make it through. Full review below.
First, I need to state this book was not an easy read. I normally rip through novels in a day or two. And this one took me almost a month, and there were several pauses. In fact, there were a few times when I put it down, I did not really expect to pick it up again. But so many people have recommended that I read Percy Walker that I really wanted to try and finish
Lance Kinzer
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I sometimes can't decide if Love in The Ruins is my favorite or least favorite Percy novel. I enjoyed it a great deal upon a recent re-read. Perhaps it is because I'm now much closer in age to the protagonist and so better able to relate to his perspective. The absurdist nature of the story can be a bit confounding - and at times perhaps even a bit self indulgent. But, that very context allows Percy to explore from yet another angle the core theme of all his novels; the difficulty of finding one ...more
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: literature, catholic
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 (Pete) 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
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.
Dorothy McKnight
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Prophetic, insightful, dizzying.
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5. Brilliant satire set in an alternate universe. Published in 1971, readers found it prescient by 1980. Now, half a century later, it may just be downright prophetic. With a nod to Utopia, the classic satire by St. Thomas More, protagonist Dr. Tom More lives in Paradise, Louisiana, at a moment in U.S. history when race relations are exploding into violence, politics are polarized, and materialistic suburbanites are spreading a spiritual plague. Plus, American Catholics have broken away from R ...more
Luke Wagner
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Walker Percy has expertly taken us along a 4-day long journey close to the end of the world. Our protagonist is a bad Catholic—but he’s the best protagonist we could have asked for. Although he is troubled, depressed, a sex-addict, and a drunkard, he is also real and honest, and he’s the only character who keeps his head while the world falls apart.
The religious, Christian, and biblical references throughout the book make it an incredibly enjoyable read for religious people, especially those wi
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A delightfully prescient, humorous diagnosis of America’s contemporary social ills.
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
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
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
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
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
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...
Marina Barnes
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
what the heck did I just read
EJ 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.
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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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“Jews wait for the Lord, Protestants sing hymns to him, Catholics say mass and eat him.” 35 likes
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