Pros: As many have noted, the book is prophetic about the breakdown of the US into leftwing and rightwing politicized tribes, though the story doesn’t delve into this much. The point may be there’s not much difference beneath the surface. The main character is interesting and somewhat sympathetic: he’s a good man, well aware that he has given up and given into sin, as he sees it (drinking, sex, and malaise), and his underlying will to do good and his capacity to love grounds what would otherwise be a painfully superficial story. Percy has a good command of his prose style and his descriptions and dialogue both read well. There is some interesting and sometimes trenchant racial commentary. The book is successful at making the United States and its people look ridiculous and in decline, which was clearly a goal, and sometimes this is done with genuine wit and irony.
Cons: I find the book too long. It seems to me the story could have been told in about 200 rather than 400 pages. There is a great deal of repetition of meeting absurd characters and having absurd chats. I may be missing genre cues (or Catholic cues) but the character development evident in the epilogue felt unearned to me. I felt little character arc, just sudden transformation. Maybe it was divine grace? ( Read more… )