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The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
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The Moviegoer (edition 1998)

by Walker Percy

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3,423601,578 (3.68)1 / 99
Member:eluminati
Title:The Moviegoer
Authors:Walker Percy
Info:Vintage (1998), Edition: 1st Vintage International ed, Paperback, 241 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:**
Tags:Fiction

Work details

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

  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 (57)  German (2)  All (59)
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
(10) This is a hard book to describe. It is a pivotal few weeks in the life of Binx Bolings, a young New Orleans man who represents the next generation of the moneyed Southern upper class. He is the last hope of his aunt to carry on the families genteel traditions, but he wavers between being what everyone expects him to be and a 'moviegoer.' I think the title moviegoer is both literal and figurative in that Binx loves the romance and the un-ordinariness of a movie plot, and thus being a 'moviegoer' comes to symbolize for him living a romantic life - a quest for beauty, excitement, entertainment. Binx's step-cousin, Kate, is a fragile young woman, who struggles with the same navel-gazing issues that Binx does - Her nervous breakdown during Carnival and its aftermath make up the central tension of the novel.

The writing was quite good and the New Orleans setting was rendered spot-on. The novel took place in the 1950's yet seemed almost timeless. There were a few times I got a bit bored with the meandering construction and a few times a bit confused about the characters. I am not sure Percy did the best job with explication re: who is who. And who the hell is 'Rory?' - all of a sudden, our narrator Binx, seemed to be telling his story to someone named Rory. I was also surprised at times by the interjection of sexual or lewd content that came out of nowhere in an otherwise restrained novel; surprised but sometimes quite amused. For instance, one scene where Binx's aunt is talking at him and he is overcome with an incredible urge to defecate.

I really liked this odd novel. Not necessarily perfectly easy reading but it seemed quite real. Very well-written. Complex, yet a simple 200+ pages. I wonder if Kate and Binx will be happy. . . I hope so, but I doubt it. I appreciate the National Book Award and the designation of this as a modern classic; Southern literature style. ( )
  jhowell | Feb 25, 2017 |
The prose of this book is particular and wonderful. Beyond that, I've found it very boring. Nothing much happens, and I'm afraid that may be the point. This malaise may be ennui by another name, and the narrator seems like a stepford smiler on the verge of snapping à la American Psycho.

Hm. I know this is a social commentary, but it doesn't quite hit right for me. Maybe it's because it's a critique of wishy-washiness of a society that is at its heart corrupt because of its inaction -- and because of this, because the narrator is deeply a member of this societal norm, he just doesn't do anything.

I think that's the essence of what I don't like. I hate books full of characters who don't do anything.

But it still may take me a while to process this novel. ( )
  beckyrenner | Dec 29, 2016 |
This novel was more thought-provoking than I had expected so my rating may change after I have had time to mull it over. I loved the New Orleans setting and Percy has a wonderful way with words. The malaise of Binx and Kate was both familiar and strange -- I have had bouts of clinical depression and so could understand some of what Kate was feeling but the existentialism was a bit hard to relate to. ( )
  leslie.98 | Sep 9, 2016 |
I knew from the very first page I would love this book. A trifle confusing at times when it seemed to drift but overall I loved it. Felt quite bereft when I finished this morning and wanted to know others' thoughts - came across this great essay below - DON'T READ UNTIL YOU'RE FINISHED - HAS SPOILERS!

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/03/my-childish-unhealthy-j... ( )
1 vote viviennestrauss | Aug 20, 2016 |
Binx Bolling is a lost soul, but at least he knows he’s lost. As the ostensible hero of Walker Percy’s beautifully rendered novel The Moviegoer, an almost 30-year old Binx wanders around New Orleans as part of his Search, which is “…what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life”. He spends his days going through the motions as a stockbroker in his Uncle Jules’ business while escaping at night into the artificial world of countless movie theaters and the pursuit of a variety of women. Of course, all of this is a great disappointment to his Aunt Emily, the matriarch of the family, who has far greater plans for his life. However, when Emily asks Binx to help counsel his cousin Kate, who is in even a more fragile mental state than he is, all of their lives are placed on a very different path.

Set during Mardi Gras week in 1960, The Moviegoer perfectly captures the angst, disillusionment, and uncertainty of an era in which an entire generation was trying to move on from the war while facing what the future held in store. While that future seemed so promising to so many—dazzling even—the reality of day-to-day life was often depressingly mundane. In that respect, this novel shares a common theme with Richard Yates’ equally remarkable Revolutionary Road, which Percy’s work actually beat out for the National Book Award. However, this is also a very Southern tale, infused as it is with the daily rhythms, speech patterns, and local flavor of the time and the place. Above all else, it is a deceptively philosophical novel and a compelling character study that has stood the test of time.

I really enjoyed this book, which I had known by reputation for years before I finally got around to reading it. To be sure, it is not really a plot-driven story, which is something that seems to be a concern for a lot of other reviewers. From my perspective, though, I found Binx Bolling to be one the great characters in recent literature and an archetype for so many disaffected modern male protagonists (e.g., Frank Bascombe in Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter and Independence Day) who have followed. Percy’s prose is sharp and insightful, as well as occasionally funny and charming. This novel, which is so full of compelling ideas and observations, is one that I will look forward to reading again in the future. ( )
2 vote browner56 | Jul 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (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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Epigraph
... the specific character of

despair is precisely this: it

is unaware of being despair.

Søren Kierkegaard,

The Sickness Unto Death
Dedication
IN GRATITUDE TO W.A.P.
First words
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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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375701966, Paperback)

This elegantly written account of a young man's search for signs of purpose in the universe is one of the great existential texts of the postwar era and is really funny besides. Binx Bolling, inveterate cinemaphile, contemplative rake and man of the periphery, tries hedonism and tries doing the right thing, but ultimately finds redemption (or at least the prospect of it) by taking a leap of faith and quite literally embracing what only seems irrational.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:46 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Kate's desperate struggle to maintain her sanity forces her cousin Binx to relinquish his dreamworld

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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