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The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

The Moviegoer

by Walker Percy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,942772,111 (3.68)1 / 106
In this National Book Award­-winning novel, a young man, torn between the forces of tradition and change, searches for meaning in postwar America. On the cusp of his thirtieth birthday, Binx Bolling is a lost soul. A stockbroker and member of an established New Orleans family, Binx's one escape is the movie theater that transports him from the falseness of his life. With Mardi Gras in full swing, Binx, along with his cousin Kate, sets out to find his true purpose amid the excesses of the carnival that surrounds him.   Buoyant yet powerful, The Moviegoer is a poignant indictment of modern values, and an unforgettable story of a week that will change two lives forever. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Walker Percy including rare photos from the author's estate.… (more)
  1. 00
    The Feast of All Saints by Anne Rice (kraaivrouw)
  2. 00
    The Floating Opera by John Barth (michaeljohn)
    michaeljohn: Both are slyly humorous novels with philosophical undercurrents.
  3. 01
    Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre (erezv)

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English (75)  German (2)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
A very lovely, very lonely book. Classic uncle lit. ( )
  uncleflannery | May 16, 2020 |
This book came out of nowhere to with the National Book Award in 1960. Percy was a doctor disqualified from medical practice because of tuberculosis. He had published a few philosophical musings in minor journals. He was the definition of obscure. His book wasn’t even nominated for the award. Nonetheless, a committee-member suggested The Moviegoer (a suggested read by a friend), and the rest is history. When Percy died in 1990, he was mentioned among America’s writing greats.

What makes this book great? It’s a coming-of-age story in which Binx Boling, a stock broker in New Orleans, grows up. He begins the book alienated from a responsible lifestyle. He has casual sex and attempts to live a life of ease. He even romanticizes his female secretary – a vivid reminder that this book was published in 1960. Such an arrangement reminds the reader of a disoriented modern state in which success and failure can be intimately related to each other. Indeed, in Percy’s depiction, they often seem two sides of the same coin.

Percy’s Roman Catholicism displays a view of salvation. Percy’s view differs from the predominantly Protestant culture of the American South where salvation is often equated with mere mental consent (assent?) to a set of beliefs. Instead, salvation for Bolling looks like assuming a life of responsibility. While the presentation of Bolling’s fiancee represents more of a stereotype of 1950s American culture, this responsibility indicates a coming of age for the protagonist.

Overall, this story carries itself nicely. It begins in a disjointed manner and is hard to follow. It is much like Bolling’s life at that point. Yet it comes together beautifully as the story (and Bolling himself) evolves into someone new. No wonder critics rank it among the English Language’s top 100 novels of the twentieth century. It’s refreshing to read something that is essentially a spiritual quest (even a modern pilgrimage) that is consistent with the Christian tradition but is not centered around religious beliefs. Again, Percy’s view of salvation is something concrete and embodied. It is never preachy as Bolling’s immature views of God are even criticized.

Those familiar with this type of American Gothic crossed with a redemption story will be reminded of the short stories of Flannery O’Connor (who shares Percy’s Catholicism). Faulkner’s Gothic style contains all of the disjointedness but none of Percy’s (and O’Connor’s) concretized and realistic redemption. As such, this readable work deserves its place in the English language’s literary canon.

( )
  scottjpearson | Jan 25, 2020 |
Great in so many ways: American, post-war 20th century, Southern, Catholic, philosophical. ( )
  nicholasjjordan | Nov 13, 2019 |
eh. Really lovely sentences, interesting plot, etc etc etc, but I'm just not swooning. I've probably seen far too many television commercials for this subtle form of quasi-philosophical investigation to really hook me. ( )
  Adammmmm | Sep 10, 2019 |
Walker Percy's 1960's National Book award winner about Binx Bolling living an odd premeditated alienated life in a New Orleans suburb where is goes movies and dates assistants on his solo stock broker office. His relations ship with his fragile cousin Kate and his family against the backdrop of upper class New Orleans and Mardi Gras is classic as he is in an ambiguous sea of ennui, romance alienation and redemption.

Superb novel about alienation on mid 20 th century New Orleans . The protagonist pursues a life an a stock broker in the suburbs going to the movies as his sort of understated solo ritual of living through others lives .
He is upper class and has a loving relationship with his female cousin who is mentally unstable .
  JoshSapan | May 29, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
Ironic but not cynical, complex without being abstruse, hopeful without sentimentality.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Percy, Walkerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Handke, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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... the specific character of

despair is precisely this: it

is unaware of being despair.

Søren Kierkegaard,

The Sickness Unto Death
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This morning I got a note from my aunt asking me to come for lunch.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Legacy Library: Walker Percy

Walker Percy has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

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Average: (3.68)
1 27
1.5 6
2 60
2.5 24
3 194
3.5 60
4 244
4.5 41
5 187


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