By Art Taylor
Which book have you read that makes you wish you could sit down for a gab fest with the writer, living or dead?
Like many of us in the mystery community, attending events like Malice Domestic and Bouchercon and the Edgars has already given me the opportunity to meet and chat with authors whose books I adore—so in addition to sparking some speculation this week's question also brought back a lot of memories about good times in the past. For example, at the Edgars in 2008, I searched down the banquet list to find where Tana French was sitting just so I could tell her how much I loved loved loved In the Woods, which I'd reviewed for the Post the year before; shaking her hand and chatting briefly meant that I couldn't review any of her future books for the Post, of course, but it was well worth that sacrifice, and we've remained friends since.
Gazing across the current landscape of writers and looking back over the long history of literature—over my own long history of reading—I'm sure I could come up with a whole roomful of writers whose books have prompted me to want to meet them and talk with them. But one jumped to the forefront of my mind as soon as this question came up: Walker Percy.
In addition to being a great novelist, and one of my own favorites clearly, Percy was also a philosopher—and not just the homespun armchair kind. Existential querying lies at the core of both his fiction and some of his nonfiction too, and I could picture sitting on the porch with him and discussing some of those philosophical interests and observations and the way he explored those ideas in his fiction, where he was being truly pensive and where just provocative, just trying to shake a reader's sensibilities—and why.
Plus, Percy was a big fan of bourbon, so we'd have something to drink while we talked too—always a plus.