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The Second Coming: A Novel by Walker Percy
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The Second Coming: A Novel (original 1980; edition 1999)

by Walker Percy (Author)

Series: Will Barrett (2)

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936917,763 (3.97)10
A successful man's midlife crisis may just provide a twisted path to happiness in this New York Times-bestselling novel by the author of The Last Gentleman.   Now in his late forties, Will Barrett lives a life other men only dream of. Wealthy from a successful career on Wall Street and from the inheritance of his deceased wife's estate, Will is universally admired at the club where he spends his days golfing in the North Carolina sun. But everything begins to unravel when, without warning, Will's golf shots begin landing in the rough, and he is struck with bouts of losing his balance and falling over. Just when Will appears doomed to share the fate of his father--whose suicide has haunted him his whole life--a mental hospital escapee named Allison might prove to be the only one who can save him.   Original and profound, The Second Coming is a moving love story of two damaged souls who find peace with each other.… (more)
Member:McNeeseBibliophiles
Title:The Second Coming: A Novel
Authors:Walker Percy (Author)
Info:Picador (1999), 368 pages
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The Second Coming by Walker Percy (1980)

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
What is wrong with Will Barrett? He is depressed and his golf game is off kilter. He has a sort of falling down sickness and that theme pervades this tale of revelation and change in the life of this widower who has become a somewhat different person than the young seeker whose story was told in The Last Gentleman.

In this, his fifth novel, Walker Percy once again surveys the themes of alienation, from self and from God, and dissatisfaction with the commercialism of modern American life. This book, while filled with realistic details about life in North Carolina in the 1980s, is able to speak to twenty-first century readers with its existential approach to life's problems. Many of the people Will encounters, and there are some memorable side characters like a chaplain whose belief is somewhat doubtful, remind me of the mediocre Christians who provided fodder for the commentaries of thinkers like Kierkegaard. We find Percy asking the important question whether people may be missing their own lives while going through the motions like shopping or wasting away on the local golf course.

At the center of the novel Will has an epiphany of sort that leads him to a fall that becomes a catalyst for a new life - a new relationship both for him and for a young woman named Allison who has her own psychological baggage. It was somewhat ironic, however, that Will's fall was due in part to his hubristic demand that he would commit suicide if God did not reveal himself. And even more ironic was that this demand led Will closer to being present for his own life than ever before.

Best of all is the way that Percy packages the story - in two parts that fit together so well that this may be his best novelistic effort. It certainly rivals the brilliance of his premiere effort of The Moviegoer. As a reader I was thankful that he returned to Will Barrett and found a way to tell a story of second chances and new love wrapped in an elegant package. The existence of god in the life of Will Barrett is brought home in a more thorough way here than in The Last Gentleman. I found it a transformation made possible by a reasonable belief. ( )
  jwhenderson | Sep 21, 2021 |
"Shortly afterward, he became even more depressed. People seemed more farcical than ever. More than once he shook his head and, smiling ironically, said to himself: This is not for me."

There's an improbable romance in this featuring my least favorite stock character, ie, the zany girl that changes your life and teaches you to love again, but I like this book so much I'll let it pass. ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
lah. I couldn't do more than skim this. It rambled on about golf, how rich the main character was and the exact model of his mercedes. It had been recommended as a good existential novel - lies!
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
"The Second Coming" is a fine read, which isn't at all surprising, as it was written by Walker Percy. But I'm not quite convinced that it's a wholly successful novel. It's less focused than either "The Moviegoer" and "Love in the Ruins" -- the other of Percy novels that I've read -- and while it has many strengths, I'm not sure that it states its thesis all that clearly or sets out to do what it intends to do.

It concerns Will Barrett -- a former lawyer, newly minted widower, extremely rich man, and unlikely spiritual seeker. Will finds himself suddenly haunted by half-forgotten memories, afflicted with mysterious fainting spells, and enamored of an eccentric young lady. While "The Second Coming" successfully extends the existentialist themes that are present in Percy's other novels, it's sure to frustrate those people who don't like to think of literature as something that comfortable people do when they find themselves unhappy. The book, though beautifully written, is a bit of a slog in places, and shares that disorienting quality that most books that have mentally ill protagonist at their center tend to have. As in all of the Percy I've read, religion plays a large role, but while the author's observations are sharp, Will's spiritual quest seems a bit more like the ravings of a madman than any sort of productive soul-searching.

But it's these observations, in the end, that make "The Second Coming" interesting. Percy seemed to have an almost preternatural ability to see societal change in America as it unfolded and to sense where Americans, as a society, were headed. Even though this was published in 1979, it's a sharp portrait of the New South, even as Will himself attempts to flee from the nostalgia, hatred, and pride that defined the literary Old South. It also senses the rise of a new, more self-centered kind of Christianity in America and the country's coming fascination with big money and success, which would more or less define the cultural climate of the next decade. Percy's perceptiveness also extends to his characters. He's never so obvious as to describe his characters straight on, but the details he does provide seem well-chosen and telling, and tell us more about his characters than any photograph or interview would. Percy might have been one of American literature's great observers. While "The Second Coming" seems confused and bogged-down in places, it's still a successful novel in many other respects. Recommended to Walker Percy's many fans. ( )
1 vote TheAmpersand | Mar 10, 2018 |
Walker Percy is a celebrated Southern author which I have always been ashamed to have not read. This was my first of his novels and it made me wonder if I had waded in at the wrong end of the pool. This is a novel about mental illness, love, suicidal tendencies, and ultimately God (though it gets there by a circuitous route). The main character, a wealthy widower, has a medical condition (un-diagnosed) which causes him to fall down on the golf course. When he does, he starts remembering details from his past. This includes his father's suicide and his failed attempt to take Will with him.

This puts him in psychological turmoil, and his mind slips. He enters into a wager with God, where he goes down into a cave, expecting to die there unless God proves himself, somehow. A toothache causes him to wander deeper into the cave and he falls into Allie's Greenhouse. Allie is a recent escapee from a mental hospital and the daughter of one of his friends.

Like Allie, Will spends much of the novel with the people in his life trying to maneuver him. Eventually Will wakes from the slumber of life to forge a new life together with Allie.

The title 'the second coming' refers both to Will's rebirth toward the end of the novel and to the return of Christ. When Will is at his most delusional, he wonders if 'the Jews' are a sign (and these are convoluted ramblings). However the second coming is not just symptomatic of madness, it also bears hope.

Most of the religious characters in this novel are sophisticated, affluent Episcopalians. Percy does not paint them in the most favorable light.
( )
1 vote Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
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The first sign that something had gone wrong manifested itself while he was playing golf.
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"They going to keep chopping on me till I'll fit on a skateboard," said Mr. Ryan, watching him.
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A successful man's midlife crisis may just provide a twisted path to happiness in this New York Times-bestselling novel by the author of The Last Gentleman.   Now in his late forties, Will Barrett lives a life other men only dream of. Wealthy from a successful career on Wall Street and from the inheritance of his deceased wife's estate, Will is universally admired at the club where he spends his days golfing in the North Carolina sun. But everything begins to unravel when, without warning, Will's golf shots begin landing in the rough, and he is struck with bouts of losing his balance and falling over. Just when Will appears doomed to share the fate of his father--whose suicide has haunted him his whole life--a mental hospital escapee named Allison might prove to be the only one who can save him.   Original and profound, The Second Coming is a moving love story of two damaged souls who find peace with each other.

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