The Last Gentlemenrnby Loxley F. Nicholsrn’Friendship is like two clocks keeping time.”rn—AnonymousrnWalker Percy: A Lifernby Patrick H. Samway, S.J.rnNew York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux;rn506 pages, $35.00rnThe Correspondence ofrnShelby Foote & Walker Percyrnedited by ]ay TolsonrnNew York: W. W. Norton;rn310 pages, $29.95rnWalker Percy was born in Birmingham,rnAlabama, on May 7, 1916,rnthe eldest son of a prosperous lawyer andrna Georgia socialite. In addition to patricianrnlineage, Percy enjoyed a birthrightrnof wealth and privilege. With thesernamenities, however, came a familial predispositionrnto depression and suicide.rnAfter their father’s suicide in 1929 (andrnthat of their paternal grandfather), Percyrnand his brothers moved with their moth-rnLoxley F. Nichols teaches in the Englishrnand Writing departments at Loyola Collegernin Baltimore, Maryland.rner to their Grandmother Phinizy’s housernin Athens, Georgia. The following yearrntheir bachelor cousin, William AlexanderrnPercy, invited the displaced family torncome to Greenville, Mississippi, wherernhe felt the boys would receive greaterrncultural advantages. Delighted with thernstimulating life at Uncle Will’s house,rnwhere writers and intellectuals came tornvisit routinely, the boys prospered untilrnthe bizarre death of their mother who,rnwith her youngest son Phin in the car,rndrove off a bridge and drowned. Althoughrnher death was never determinedrndefinitely to have been a suicide, Phinrnsuffered for years recalling that his motherrnhad not only refused to swim out of therncar but tried to keep him from escapingrnas well. Although he seldom talkedrnabout his father and mother, Walker Percy’srngrief and perplexit)’ at their deathsrncontinued to haunt him throughout hisrnlife.rnNever completely alone or without resources,rnhowever, 15-year-old Walker,rn14-year-old LeRoy, and ten-year-oldrnPhin were adopted by Will Percy:rnplanter, lawyer, poet, and author ofrnLanterns on the l^evee. The Percy boys’rndevotion and gratitude to their uncle andrnhis dramatic influence on their lives cannotrnbe overstated. Even Shelby Foote,rnthe young friend whom Will Percy recruitedrnto help make his cousins feel welcomernin Greenville, found himself similarlyrnenthralled by the possibilities thatrnlife at Mr. Will’s house offered.rnWhen Walker showed aptitude in science.rnWill Percy encouraged him tornstudy medicine. Thus, following graduationrnfrom Greenville High School,rnPercy spent four years at Chapel Hillrnand then entered Columbia MedicalrnSchool, where he specialized in pathology.rnWhen not in class or studying, Percyrnwent to the movies and read, pastimes hernpursued in earnest throughout his life.rnHe also underwent psychoanalysis, anrnexperience of apparently negligible valuerndespite the frequency of the sessionsrnand the duration of the treatment. Afterrngraduation, Percy returned to New Yorkrnto intern at Bellevue Hospital, but hisrntraining was interrupted when he contractedrntuberculosis. Forced to withdrawrnand seek rest cure, Percy spent the nextrn26/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn