Paul's Reviews > The Last Gentleman

The Last Gentleman by Walker Percy
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May 13, 2009

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bookshelves: 2009

I really enjoyed this book. It was strange; the author made some interesting choices, like calling his narrator "the engineer" all the time, instead of by his name. This was odd, because all the characters called him by his name, but for the first part of the book he doesn't interact with anyone, so you don't learn his name until 50 pages in or so. Odd. (p.s. the narrator shared my surname.) There's a ton of philosophy in here, no surprise from Percy, and overall the story is mostly compelling and the characters are somewhat interesting. The middle sagged for me, though, I found myself drifting off into La La Land while reading. Barrett is a meanderer for the ages, so the plot is, well, meandering, and nothing really seems to have much gravitas. He finds himself with less than a dollar to his name, yet this doesn't bother him, and later in the book he has more money than he knows what to do with, though this doesn't seem to affect him either. And not in a "money isn't important" sort of way. Also, he sometimes seems to be deeply in love with a woman named Kitty, though at times fairly ambivalent toward her. There just seemed to be a lot of nonchalance inherent in the characters, which made me care less about what happened to them. Often I couldn't tell if the narrator was meant to be liked or pitied or if he was just meant to seem pathetic. Anyway, though, the final scene -- in fact the entire last section of the book -- is great. Barrett's doting relationship with Vaught is compelling.

I liked The Moviegoer a lot more than this, but I'll keep reading Percy's stuff. He's a unique writer.
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