I am a fan of two late Southern writers who, as it turns out, were lifelong friends: Shelby Foote and Walker Percy.
Actually, I had a correspondence with Shelby Foote about 30 years ago when I was young and seeking a mentor. We exchanged letters and spoke on the phone mostly about his writing and my music. We never met in person, as I lived in Eden Prairie and he in Memphis.
Foote was a novelist who between the years 1953 and 1973 wrote the three volume opus on the Civil War which his fame greatly rests upon. He brought a novelist’s eye and sensibility to history writing. Later even more fame came to him when he was featured in the Ken Burns Civil War documentary series.
His good friend Walker Percy was a medical doctor who came to novel writing quite late. He made up for lost time however and is highly regarded for his insightful novels that have a distinctive philosophical bent. He was a sort of existentialist Catholic which is an odd combination especially for an American Southerner.
I am re-reading “The Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy” which is a great look into their relationship and also a rare glimpse into each of their creative endeavors. They constantly gave each other creative advice and encouragement through the years and their recommendations to each other in terms of books, art and music is a treasure.
One quote from a letter to Foote from Percy exactly captures a feeling about religion and God that resonates with me:
“My Catholicism consists just now and mainly in the deepest kind of hunch that it all works out, generally for the good, and everybody gets their deserts.”