Walker Percy: The Second Coming
This novel takes us back to Will Barrett, he of The Last Gentleman. He has now retired from his law practice and is living in North Carolina, playing golf. However, once again, he has to confront his demons, in particular the suicide of his father. Indeed, it is while playing golf, that this demon does occur and Will, memories flooding back, remembers that not only did his father kill himself but tried to kill the twelve-year old Will as well. This leads Will to try and test God. He will go to a cave, take some sleeping pills and wait for God to give him a sign. If no sign is forthcoming, he will die. Fortunately God does send him a sign, in the form of a toothache and nausea, and he leaves the cave only to fall into a greenhouse. The greenhouse is occupied by Allison Huger, a twenty year old who has escaped from a mental institution and is hiding out from her parents (who want to have her declared insane so that they can get the property she has inherited.) Her mother is Will’s former lover. Unlike Will, indeed the opposite of Will, because of the electric shock treatment she has received, she has no memories. Allison is, of course, the reason for life that Percy’s heroes look for and usually find in the unlikeliest of places. Will struggles throughout the novel without realising this but finally does. Once again, Percy gives us a richly humorously but ultimately serious novel, which is well worth reading.
First published 1980 by Farrar, Straus, Giroux