In the later 1940s, Walker Percy and Shelby Foote, friends since their teenage years in Greenville, Mississippi, began a correspondence that would last until Percy's death in 1990. Walker Percy, the highly regarded author of The Moviegoer, wrote six novels, two volumes of philosophical writings, and numerous essays. Shelby Foote met with early success as a novelist, but his reputation today rests more upon his massive three-volume narrative history of the Civil War, and his role as commentator in Ken Burns's documentary The Civil War.
The correspondence between Percy and Foote traces their lives from the beginning of their respective careers, when they were grappling fiercely and openly with their ambitions, artistic doubts, and personal problems. Although they discuss such serious matters as the death of Foote's mother and Percy's battle with cancer, their letters are full of sly humor and good-natured ribbing. Jay Tolson has selected, edited, and annotated the letters of these two remarkable writers to shed light on their relationship and their literary careers.