Walker Percy’s writing from twenty and thirty often seems as current (or more so) as when written. The quote below came from “The State of te Novel: Dying Art or New Science?”, published in The Michigan Quarterly Review in 1977; but the basic theme pervades his novels and essays:

Something, it appears, has gone wrong with the Western world, and gone wrong in a sense far more radical than, say, the evils of industrial England which engaged Dickens. It did not take a diagnostician to locate the evils of the sweatshops of the nineteenth-century Midlands. But now it seems that whatever has gone wrong strikes at the heart and core of meaning itself, the very ways people see and understand themselves. What is called into question in novels now is the very enterprise of human life itself. Instead of writing about this or that social evil from a posture of consensus from which we agree to deplore social evils, it is now the consensus itself and the posture which are called into question. . . . Forty years ago Steinbeck had an easy job writing about the Okies and the dust bowl. It is a different matter now when the novelist confronts third-generation Okies in California who have won, who seem to have everything they want–and yet who seem ready any minute to slide physically and spiritually into the Pacific Ocean. (emphasis added)