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The Moviegoer

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  18,971 Ratings  ·  1,480 Reviews
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) b ...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published by The Noonday Press (first published 1961)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 02, 2017 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The fact is I am quite happy in a movie,even a bad movie...What I remember is the time John Wayne killed three men with a carbine as he was falling to the dusty street in Stagecoach, and the time the kitten found Orson Wells in the doorway in the Third Man.”


Binx Bolling is floating through life. He survived the Korean War and was fortunate enough to come back with a good wound, a shoulder wound, that allowed him to leave the conflict with honor. He lives in Gentilly, a middle class suburb of N
Chuck Lowry
This is my favorite novel of all time. It is the story of Binx Bolling, a successful, socially prominent New Orleans stockbroker from an old and wealthy family, and how he faces his life in the week of Carnival leading up to his thirtieth birthday on Ash Wednesday. Binx is an avid and successful skirtchaser, but he really loves his stepcousin Kate, a manic depressive. The book tells us that a life spent seeking happiness is almost doomed to failure, that happiness, both as a concept and as a rea ...more
This review may contain spoilers.

New Orleans, 1960's. Jack "Binx" Bolling is 30, comes from a well off background, makes his money as a stock broker, and likes girls, and oh yes, he likes going to movies, a lot. But Binx is not happy, he is stuck, going without direction, without purpose; problem is, he doesn't know where to go, what to do next. His distant cousin, Kate Cutrer, he can relate to. She is also stuck, mainly because she suffers severe psychological issues. There is a connection with
Dec 19, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All hail the Biblioracle, for his powers are immense. I realize that many of you will not be acquainted with this prophet of proper book choices. He writes a column for the Chicago Tribune’s weekly book review supplement. Aside from short essays on book-related topics (think pithier versions of chapters in Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris), he invites readers to submit their own five most recent selections from which he divines the next one that should go on the list. It’s a fun exercise for someone lik ...more
Feb 04, 2008 Rachel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned-bad
I couldn't get through this book. Percy writes a detailed and interesting setting, and a meandering narrator/main character.

But really, I think the same way about this as I do books like Emma-- As in, why do I care if rich idiots are sad about their affluent lifestyle that is free of any socio-economic or actual danger?

Oh, poor rich white middle-aged depressed man, who makes a lot of money, is breathlessly racist and sexist, and spends all his time manuvering to get his secretaries into bed.

Aug 26, 2012 Lawyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: For those in the mood for a bit of the blues
Recommended to Lawyer by: Goodreads Group On the Southern Literary Trail
The Moviegoer: Walker Percy's Novel of "If That's All There Is"

Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is--Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller


If Walker Percy's The Moviegoer ever hits the screen, I'm sure Peggy Lee singing "Is That All There Is" will be on the soundtrack. And, if Binx Bolling is there to see it, I wonder if he'll recognize himself.

Not in the mood for a little Cam
Mar 18, 2009 Bram rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I'm a sucker for books that employ existential musings in a way that feels genuine and unforced; thus, I greatly enjoyed The Moviegoer. It's an ambitious novel for one so slim--it skims many weighty topics, from hedonism (and his better-dressed twin, capitalism), to religion's place in America, to the nature of responsibility (and that of her incubus, apathy), to mental health and paranoia. There is even a nice riff on Salinger where Percy replaces Holden's "phonies" with those who are "dead" in ...more
Megan Baxter
May 19, 2014 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me preface this by saying that I'm quite sure that nothing in this review will come close to equalling the great one Jeffrey Keeten did, which I am purposely not rereading until after I write this, as it will intimidate the heck out of me.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
May 31, 2009 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I come away from "The Moviegoer" with very mixed feelings. Walker Percy was a beautiful writer, and I found myself reading several passages more than once just to enjoy the language, but I think I may be too old, even at 35, to truly appreciate and connect with a novel driven almost completely by existential feelings. It's not that I never personally feel existential dread -- I do, far more often than I'd like -- but, for the most part, I got the reading of these types of novels out of my system ...more
Aug 16, 2007 Mike rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fancy Lads
In the running for the 1962 National Book Award -

Joseph Heller for Catch 22
Richard Yates for Revolutionary Road
J.D. Salinger for Franny & Zooey

Somehow, Walker Percy's The Moviegoer won. So, I read it.

I guess it kind of redeems itself towards the end, but for much of the first 100 pages or so, it was filled with sickening Southern witticisms and references to by-gone nonsense. Too much about the "malaise" and the "genie-soul" - which means what exactly?

And, what kind of grandiose shit is this
Jan 01, 2017 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was a junior in high school, my favorite English teacher told us about Walker Percy. He lived across Lake Pontchartrain, she said, and she made him sound like a reclusive eccentric. He had a new book out, she told us, called Lancelot and highly recommended his Love in the Ruins. We didn't read him in class, but I heard enough about him to be intrigued and I read him on my own. Though my teacher had introduced me to him, I felt like he was my own discovery.

I don't remember the first time I
Nov 12, 2008 Katie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing like a boring book to put a damper on reading. I can't remember the exact day that I started this book, but it feels like forever ago. For a 200-some page book, it felt like a 1000 page book, and just dragged on for a long time. The main character Binx Bolling (who names their kid Binx?), is a well-to-do business man, who enjoys chasing women, seeing movies, and can't seem to find a purpose to his life. In the book, there's about five interesting events, six entertaining converstations, ...more
Feb 14, 2013 Algernon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013

I don't know what I was expecting, a nostalgic trip through the golden hours of cinema history, something along the lines of Truffaut or of the more recent Oscar laureate The Artist ? I didn't even pay attention to the year of publication (1961) or the setting (New Orleans). Mostly the impulse to pick it up came from a goodreads review full of great movie posters, and I was looking for something to validate my own obsession with the silver screen magic ( I had periods when I watched 2-3 movies
Jul 28, 2013 Rayroy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Binx Bolling.

He's the most boring man alive
He finds all he needs in a movie theater.
Driving cars gives him a feeling of malaise.
He carries war scars, he doesn't share.
He awakes 'in the grip of everydayness' it's the enemy, with no escape.
He doesn't always go to the movies, but when does he goes as a moviegoer.
He is the most boring man alive.

K.D. Absolutely
Oct 16, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Time 100 Best Novels, National Book Award 1962
John "Binx" Bolling will soon be turning 30. An ex-Korean war soldier, he is adrift. A lost soul searching for signs where to go, what to do with his life, or even what his existence means. He works in the office as a stockbroker sharing his office with his secretary, Sharon who he is secretly in love with. When he goes home, he busies himself reading his books (Arabia Deserta, Charterhouse of Pharma, The Prophet, etc) and seeing movies (The Ox-Bow Incident, It Happened One Night, Young Philadel ...more
Mar 17, 2008 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone living in modernity
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Diane Barnes
Aug 21, 2012 Diane Barnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure how much I would like this book when I started, but by the final page I loved it so much I'm going to have to put it on my re-read shelf. This book contains a lot in it's 240 pages: family love and responsibility, class systems in the south, subtle racism, feelings of despair and elation, and the search for meaning in one's life. There is also a lot of wisdom and AHA moments for the reader, written in elegant prose.
Two of my favorite sentences:
"Life goes on and on we go."
"Ours is
Jul 25, 2011 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is the war over yet?

Jack Bolling is a soldier who comes from a long line of soldiers. Jack served in Korea, his dad died in World War II, other relatives served in World War I, some in the Civil War. The fiercest warrior of them all is Jack’s Aunt Emily. She’s single womanly upholding Southern Tradition and all she has to work with is Jack. Sadly Jack is still fighting his war in his mind and heart even as he successfully makes money, chases women and of course prowls movie theaters. He’s damage
Oct 02, 2016 Fabian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shitty, shitty book with no plot and worse, no climax, whatsoever. Mega-baffling!
Southern Existentialism
"What is the nature of the search? you ask. Really it is very simple; at least for a fellow like me. So simple that it is easily overlooked. The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life."

New Orleans Movie Theatre

Mardi Gras

New Orleans Mardi Gras

Compliments of Rick Astley, "Never Gonna Give You Up"

Walker Percy was awarded the National Book Award for the 1961 publication of this little unconventional novel centered on Bin
Ever since finishing Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer I’ve been struggling to write some kind of review. Not even a good review, just something which expresses what I think about the book. What is so difficult about this book?

The Moviegoer has been called an existential novel and it won the prestigious National Book Award for 1962 beating out other better known contenders for that year such as, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey

As an existential novel, The Moviegoer, has
Jun 28, 2010 Abailart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

So many writers distrust words, so many artists distrust images and ideas, that they turn the stuff of their material against itself. As the protagonist of The Moviegoer says, ‘the only sign is that all signs in the world make no difference.’ Not that one should look to Binx Boller as a profound philosopher, of course, for he is a plaything of the author, a character made of words, albeit one who recognises that much thought, vocalisation and action is a responsive twitch. The characters herein
Sep 02, 2016 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked but preferred The Last Gentleman. He actually made reference to where I live which is remarkable because when this was written it was just a dot on the map.

The ending is one of the best I've ever read, and there are splendid passages here and there but Binx Bolling is just an annoying, myopic, self-obsessed, rueful little twerp...
Sep 14, 2014 Anastasia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-2012
Binx Bolling, è colpa mia o è colpa del tuo autore?

Io sono una di quelle a cui basta poco per essere convinta della scelta. E in questo caso il pacchetto era piuttosto invitante: un titolo accattivante e con rimandi alla mia persona talmente evidenti che non li potevo ignorare, un'offerta praticamente gratuita, visto che il libro era della biblioteca, e un depliant accattivante: rimandi allo Straniero di Camus, una certa Ricerca che il protagonista compie, un senso di alienazione, la sua passion
Dec 02, 2012 Lou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, literature
A first person narrative, told through the eyes of an ordinary man a moviegoer.
He works and in his spare time goes to movies soley or with women.
He talks of his searching, for that something else in life and he has long talks with his aunt, she's wise and gives him the advice he needs.
This is set in the town of Gentilly, an annual Carnival is to take place while all this soul searching of the main character occurs.
I found it at times humorous, here and there it did lull a bit, it is a slow burne
Larry Bassett
Sep 20, 2012 Larry Bassett rated it liked it
This book made me smile almost immediately. What is understated humor? For me it is just the casually humorous way that a character in a book thinks or talks or goes about life. No loud guffaws. No uncontrolled snorts. No immature giggles. Just a nice tepid smile in your soul. If someone was watching you, they might notice just a slight upturn at the corners of your lips or a glint in your eyes or maybe they would notice nothing.

At first glance our protagonist Binx seems to be a bit of a serial
“Nowadays when a person lives somewhere, in a neighborhood, the place is not certified for him. More than likely he will live there sadly and the emptiness which is inside him will expand until it evacuates the entire neighborhood. But if he sees a movie which shows his very neighborhood, it becomes possible for him to live, for a time at least, as a person who is Somewhere and not Anywhere.”

I wager that you must be a white man (ideally Southern, ideally Catholic) to like this book. I don’t thin
Considering how long it took me to finish such a relatively slim book it should be readily apparent that I found something lacking in this. It was one of those books that I enjoyed to a certain extent while actually in the process of reading, but for some reason I never was able to figure out I never felt compelled to pick it back up once I put it down (which is always an unfortunate situation). And to be honest, I could tell almost immediately this just wasn't my thing, so I feel kind of bad fo ...more
Sep 22, 2012 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: Southern Literary Trails
This novel proved to be different than expected in spite of the reviews I'd read prior to picking up the book. It is so introspective and has very little to do objectively with the world of film. But it has a lot to do with movies. One quote near the end seemed to sum up that conundrum for me. As Binx describes a man met on the bus returning to New Orleans, the man he has labeled "the romantic", "He is a moviegoer, though of course he does not go to movies."

For me, this summed up Binx and his pl
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Walker Percy (1916–1990) was one of the most prominent American writers of the twentieth century. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, he was the oldest of three brothers in an established Southern family that contained both a Civil War hero and a US senator. Acclaimed for his poetic style and moving depictions of the alienation of modern American culture, Percy was the bestselling author of six fiction t ...more
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“Before, I wandered as a diversion. Now I wander seriously and sit and read as a diversion.” 92 likes
“They all think any minute I'm going to commit suicide. What a joke. The truth of course is the exact opposite: suicide is the only thing that keeps me alive. Whenever everything else fails, all I have to do is consider suicide and in two seconds I'm as cheerful as a nitwit. But if I could not kill myself -- ah then, I would. I can do without nembutal or murder mysteries but not without suicide. ” 57 likes
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