They were turning people away over at Rod Dreher’s moderately sized Walker Percy conference in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Which may come as a surprise to anyone who didn’t know there was any sort of Walker Percy conference going on anywhere. Or a Walker Percy walking bourbon tour and crawfish boil, for that matter.
That mix seems to be why it was called a weekend, rather than a conference. It brought together public thinkers like Dreher, Peter Augustine Lawler, and American Conservative‘s semi-pseudonymous “Prufrock” (a.k.a. Micah Mattix, whose popular literary newsletter of that name was devoted to Percy and the conference today), along with Walker Percy fans and, naturally, long-time Rod Dreher readers and blog correspondents. Besides the merrymaking and speechifying, a documentary on Percy played out beneath the stars and a hundred conservative blog posts nearly wrote themselves. (Dreher’s coverage, courtesy Prufrock: 1, 2, 3.)
What Dreher may not know, however (according to this local news piece), is that there is a public and notable conference on Walker Percy already, though in a more academic vein. The Walker Percy Center at Loyola University New Orleans held its second such conference last October. That included Paul Elie, participant in the kerfuffle about Catholic and Christian fiction that’s rumbled through the New York Times and elsewhere, as well as an outright bevy of speakers from all over. There was also a trip to St. Joseph Abbey, and Mass, but apparently no walking bourbon tour. (Though, as this conference included Matthew Lickona and other Korrektiv Press confreres, one hesitates to rule it out.)
All the same, this seems like a welcome addition, and, as Percy’s daughter Mary said of it: the mix of learning and lounging “is so Daddy.”