It might seem a natural that Richard Ford would chose Walker Percy’s novel “The Moviegoer” as the book that changed his life. Both men were born in the South — Ford in Jackson, Mississippi, Percy in Birmingham, Alabama. And they both lived in New Orleans, where “The Moviegoer” is set. But there’s a twist to this tale. Ford says Percy’s book liberated him because while it was set in the South — it didn’t stay there.
The novel is about an ordinary man’s search for meaning in life and could have just as easily taken place in Cleveland, or St. Louis, or Iowa City. Ford says the universality of this story gave him permission to write beyond the particulars of his birthplace and classic Southern themes and instead take on the human condition unbound by geography.
Richard Ford, Pulitzer Prize winning writer, and author of numerous short story collections and books including, “The Sportswriter,” “Independence Day,” and the forthcoming, “The Lay of the Land.”