Hello from St. Francisville. Above, it’s Noted Arthur™ Harrison Scott Key, moments after I delivered him and his lovely wife to their cabin in town. Harrison is speaking on Saturday at the Walker Percy Weekend about his terrific Southern memoir The World’s Largest Man. I picked the Keys up at the Baton Rouge airport this afternoon and drove them up to the ‘ville, which is doubling as a sauna this weekend. You can’t get out of your car without your glasses fogging up. Welcome to south Louisiana, folks.
People came into register at The Conundrum, our town bookstore, which is the festival headquarters. Owner Missy Couhig, who is also the festival chairwoman, greeted everyone with wine and conviviality. It was so wonderful to see old friends as well as to meet new ones. That distinguished looking gentleman in the seersucker blazer? That’s Bill Wilson, the legendary University of Virginia religious studies professor. Ever heard of the band Sons Of Bill? That’s Bill.
Mark Cameron, a Canadian Catholic with whom I have been corresponding for years, came in from Ottawa with a couple of friends. We met for the first time. My pal Tom Sullivan, whom I haven’t seen since I left Brooklyn, and who now lives in Houston, drove in. Friends of this blog Franklin Evans, Leslie Fain, and JonF are here, but poor Bernie fell ill at the last minute and couldn’t make it. My mom came this year for the first time. Mary Pratt Percy Lobdell is back for the fourth year, with other friends from Covington. Alex Wilgus and his dad are here. Maha Hussein flew in from New York City. TAC’s Johnny Burtka, his wife, and his parents are in town too. I could go on. It’s such a joy to see folks. I’ll be introducing Ralph Wood in the morning, for his talk about Walker Percy and the Benedict Option.
Unfortunately I had to bug out early tonight. You might recall that I was in a fender bender last December. The whiplash from that event caused a bulging disc in my neck. I’ve been in physical therapy for it all year, and was getting better. On Thursday morning, I picked up the coffee pot to pour my first cup, felt something slip in my neck, and was suddenly in a lot of pain. “Oh yeah, that’s a big knot,” said the physical therapist when I saw him an hour later.
Through the magic of pain meds I’m able to be here this weekend, but man, it’s amazing how much something like this takes out of you. I needed to go back to the hotel and get prone. Headed to get a steroid injection right into the neck on Monday afternoon. Middle age, baby: it stinks. So I will not be consuming much bourbon this weekend, unfortunately. But it’s so great to be with the kind of people who come to Walker Percy Weekend. Wish you were here.
A big shout-out to Dr. Lee Burnett, who was here last year, and who treated Franklin when he broke his leg at the courthouse. Lee and his wife couldn’t make it this year because she’s having a baby any day now. We miss y’all, and are thinking of you.
I’ll post again tomorrow night, with pictures.