Daniel's Reviews > The Moviegoer

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
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May 22, 2009

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bookshelves: 2009
Read in May, 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 as a teenager. (That's when I read Camus's "The Stranger," for instance.) I probably should have read about Binx Bolling's search for meaning in the modern world back then.

What's weird about that is that I'm now far closer to both Binx's age and place in life than I was as a teenager. And maybe that's the problem. Perhaps these kinds of books are meant to prepare us for where we will be later in life -- or even allow us to say to ourselves, full of self-righteousness, "I'll never be like that!" -- rather than reflect our lives as they are today. Maybe it's just too much to take, hitting us too close to where we live now.

That all being said, I want to go back to my first point: "The Moviegoer" really does have some wonderful writing. This passage, from after Binx tries unsuccessfully to consummate an affair -- the mind was willing, but the flesh wasn't -- is just one example:
I never worked so hard in my life, Rory. I had no choice: the alternative was unspeakable. Christians talk about the horror of sin, but they have overlooked something. They keep talking as if everyone were a sinner, when the truth is that nowadays one is hardly up to it. There is very little sin in the depths of the malaise. The highest moment of a malaisian's life can be that moment when he manages to sin like a proper human (Look at us, Binx -- my vagabond friends as good as cried out to me -- we're sinning! We're succeeding! We're human after all!).

It'd be hard to argue with Binx on that point.
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05/22/2009 page 14
09/03/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Jen (new) - rated it 1 star

Jen I kept thinking while reading The Moviegoer...and soon, I will turn a page and something will happen. Something...something...

Bram Awesome review and great perspective. Lately, I've been trying to gauge which books will stick with me and which ones just feel noteworthy now because of where I am in life. I'll have to reread The Moviegoer, The Stranger, and The Catcher in the Rye in another 10+ years and see how they feel.

Daniel Lately I've been considering rereading "Catcher in the Rye" (last read when I was 15, if I remember correctly), and perhaps reading Salinger's other books for the first time. It'll be interesting to see, twenty years later, what I think of Holden Caulfield.

message 4: by Jen (new) - rated it 1 star

Jen Holden- cool smartass
Holden- young punk

message 5: by Bram (last edited Jun 03, 2009 11:07AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bram Jen wrote: "Holden- cool smartass
Holden- young punk"

Yeah, I've read a lot of accounts by people who have flipped in their opinions on this one over the years. I read it again a year or two ago and it still had the magic for me. We'll see if that continues.

Daniel--I strongly recommend his short stories and Franny and Zooey. I actually prefer F&Z to Catcher.

message 6: by Jen (new) - rated it 1 star

Jen The only reason that Catcher got more stars than F&Z for me is that I read it first and was wowed. F&Z was rated after my feet touched the ground again. It has the better ending for sure, and although I read both long ago, I remember more from F&Z, especially the revelation at the end.

Daniel I have beat-up old paperbacks of all of Salinger's books, I believe -- and, really, is there any other way to read Salinger? -- so it's just a matter of getting to them. So much to read, so little time.

Joanna I agree completely. At 31, I feel too old to relate. I am also female. This book was obviously geared towards the existential sentiments of immature, and possibly bored, men!

message 9: by John (new)

John Alt In that passage can be found the Christianity that his later books dealt with as they presented the tension between science and faith.

I liked the review.

message 10: by John (new)

John Alt In that passage can be found the Christianity that his later books dealt with as they presented the tension between science and faith.

I liked the review.

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