Walker Percy Weekend 2015 Is Coming
Tickets are now on sale for the Walker Percy Weekend 2015, June 5-7 in St. Francisville, La. Here are the panel topics for Saturday:
LOSING IT AT THE MOVIES (Walker Percy and David Foster Wallace)
The late novelist David Foster Wallace once asked a very Walker Percy-like question: “Why are we – and by ‘we’ I mean people like you and me: mostly white, upper middle class or upper class, obscenely well educated, doing really interesting jobs, sitting in really expensive chairs, watching the best, you know, watching the most sophisticated electronic equipment money can buy – why do we feel so empty and unhappy?” Panelists will discuss the answers both novelists answered this question, with special focus on each writer’s insights into how modern people evade the question by immersing themselves in film and mass media.
CATHOLICS IN THE CHRIST-HAUNTED SOUTH (Walker Percy and Flannery O’Connor)
Roman Catholicism — historically an outsider form of Christianity in the heavily Protestant South — informed the moral vision of Percy and Flannery O’Connor, two of the modern South’s best writers and most observant social critics. What did their Catholicism reveal to them about Southern culture? What did their Southern roots and Christian faith reveal to them about the discontents of contemporary America in an increasingly secular age?
Plus, at 11, Peter Augustine Lawler will deliver a one-hour lecture on Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos, the film Interstellar, and changing perspectives on man’s place in the universe.
MISSISSIPPI WOMAN, LOUISIANA MAN: EUDORA WELTY, WALKER PERCY, AND THE SOUTHERN IMAGINATION
Walker Percy and Eudora Welty were friends and contemporaries whose fiction was profoundly infused with a sense of Southern place. But they dwelled in their places — Jackson, Miss., and Covington, La. — very differently. Welty was thoroughly engaged in the life and community of her hometown, while Percy, though rooted in Covington, never felt quite at home anywhere. Exploring the pair’s contrasting relationship to place, and what it says about the Southern imagination. Panelists from Jackson, Mississippi, Louisiana State University, and beyond.
FROM ‘GONE WITH THE WIND’ TO GARDEN & GUN: WALKER PERCY AT THE CROSSROADS BETWEEN THE OLD SOUTH AND THE NEW
Walker Percy was raised in the last age of the aristocratic Old South culture, epitomized by his Uncle Will. He wrote in, and of, the New South — the emerging South of the middle class, commerce, and suburbia. How and why did the changes come about? And how has the South changed further since Percy’s death 25 years ago?
Just prior to the Front Porch Bourbon Tour, we’re hosting this talk:
AROUND THE TABLE, UNDER THE TABLE: ALCOHOL AND SOUTHERN WRITERS
“You see, I usually write at night,” said William Faulkner. “I always keep my whiskey within reach; so many ideas that I can’t remember in the morning pop into my head.” Alcohol — especially bourbon — has forever been a part of Southern culture, particularly Southern literary culture. Bourbon was the favored tipple of Faulkner and Percy. Considering the role of drinking in Southern fiction and culture, especially in an era of Recovery.
Of course we will be having the Bourbon Tour on Royal Street, which was a hugely popular event last year. The food this year? On Friday night, we’re having a Twilight In The Ruins cocktail party in the ruins of Afton Villa plantation (no word yet on whether we will be able to serve Ramos gin fizzes, like Dr. Tom More loves). On Saturday night, the festival will close with a crawfish boil under the live oaks (if you were there for last year’s crawfish boil from Hot Tails restaurant, you know how great this event is). Here is a photo gallery from the 2014 fest. There are other things going on too around the festival, including a tour of the River Bend Nuclear Power station (which plays a role in The Thanatos Syndrome) and Angola State Penitentiary (ditto). Plus, there are lots of plantation houses to see. And you’ll get to see some familiar, er, faces from this blog. Franklin Evans is making a return trip, as is Bernie. Leslie Fain was here last year (coming back, I hope), and others. Mary Pratt Percy Lobdell, one of Walker and Bunt’s daughters, is coming back too, and bringing friends. Here is the full schedule.
Tickets are now on sale at WalkerPercyWeekend.org. Please keep in mind that tickets are limited. Many festivalgoers last year said that they loved how small the event was, because they felt like they got to talk to folks, and to get to know them. We agree. We want to keep this thing neighborly, and to recreate the vibe that Peter Augustine Lawler described in his review of the 2014 festival. By the way, Peter will also be anchoring the New South/Old South panel this year. Baylor’s great Ralph Wood will be the man lecturing on Flannery, Walker, Catholicism and the South. More names to be announced later.
Anyway, please keep in mind that the festival sold out weeks in advance last year, so don’t wait too long to get your tickets and to make reservations. The St. Francisville Inn is right next to the crawfish boil grounds, and the 3V Cabins are just across the street. The Shadetree and the Barrow House are both in the historic district, easy walking distance from the lectures and bourbon tour. But look, it’s a small town, so nowhere is far away.
If you weren’t here last year, here’s a little of what you missed:
Books, literary talk, Southern culture, cold beer, hot crawfish, good conversation, drinking bourbon on the front porch and in the ruins of a plantation — how can you miss this cool little festival? I hope to see you in St. Francisville in June. Thanks to The American Conservative for co-sponsoring this event again.
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