In Order To Ghost-Write Their Autobiography?
Walker Percy, of course!
By Jeff Salter
Those of you who’ve followed my 4F1H ramblings for these nine-plus years should not be surprised that the celebrity I’d like to spend concentrated time with (in order to ghost-write his autobiography) is my hometown hero author, the award-winning and internationally-acclaimed Walker Percy [1916-1990].
That’s not to say that I claim I’d do better justice to his biography than others in Covington LA who had more access to him throughout his decades there. It’s merely to stake out my claim to spend two weeks in close contact, chatting with him.
Walker and I had a significant amount of contact over the period from early 1960s to the year before he died. But that was not with any regularity. Walker and “Bunt” Percy (and their daughters) lived fairly close to us in the south part of town. Walker was in the same local writers’ group as my dad (and other town notables); one of their daughters went to ballet class with my sister and my mom drove them one way while Bunt drove them the other way. Walker took us out on his jon boat one day and showed us the remains of a sunken Confederate gunboat. When I worked at Marsolan’s Feed & Seed Store, Walker was a regular customer and I sometimes got to wait on him. In grad school, I did exhaustive research to compile a complete bibliography of all the published works by him, about him, and reviews of his work. When I sent him a copy, he thanked me graciously. Among my most cherished possessions are several handwritten letters by Walker.
As a librarian, I convinced Walker to write a guest editorial for our state association’s quarterly journal. I met him at one of the New Orleans library conferences and escorted him from the door along a confusing maze of spaces and corridors to where he was supposed to station himself signing books.
All that history is merely to say that I encountered Walker in a wide variety of circumstances, over a long period of time, and always found him to be a true gentleman and fascinating individual. It would be delightful (for me, anyway) to have had the opportunity to spend two weeks in close contact… in order to pull together the necessary information to ghost-write his autobiography.
That said — I don’t see any reason for his life story to be released under the pretense of an autobiography. There are already several published titles which deal mostly with Percy’s writing, but some with aspects of his life… like his lifelong friendship and correspondence with writer Shelby Foote. The most complete (so far) biographical treatment – that I’m aware of – is by Robert Coles.
A bit about my correspondence with Percy:
Percy is among three authors I feature in this blog:
This reprints an abridged version of my lengthy review of Percy’s final novel:
Who would YOU like to spend two weeks with… in order to ghost-write their autobiography?
[JLS # 479]