The Moviegoer

The Moviegoer

by Walker Percy

Paperback

$16.00
View All Available Formats & Editions

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375701962
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/1998
Series: Vintage International Series
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Walker Percy was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1916, graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1937, and became a Doctor of Medicine at Columbia in 1941. The Moviegoer, his first novel, was awarded the 1962 National Book Award for Fiction. Percy's other novels include The Last Gentleman (1966), Love in the Ruins (1971), Lancelot (1977), The Second Coming (1980), and The Thanatos Syndrome (1987), and two volumes of essays, The Message in the Bottle (1975) and Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book (1983). Walker Percy died in 1990.

Read an Excerpt

The Moviegoer


By Walker Percy

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1961 Walker Percy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-1625-5


CHAPTER 1

THIS MORNING I GOT a note from my aunt asking me to come for lunch. I know what this means. Since I go there every Sunday for dinner and today is Wednesday, it can mean only one thing: she wants to have one of her serious talks. It will be extremely grave, either a piece of bad news about her stepdaughter Kate or else a serious talk about me, about the future and what I ought to do. It is enough to scare the wits out of anyone, yet I confess I do not find the prospect altogether unpleasant.

I remember when my older brother Scott died of pneumonia. I was eight years old. My aunt had charge of me and she took me for a walk behind the hospital. It was an interesting street. On one side were the power plant and blowers and incinerator of the hospital, all humming and blowing out a hot meaty smell. On the other side was a row of Negro houses. Children and old folks and dogs sat on the porches watching us. I noticed with pleasure that Aunt Emily seemed to have all the time in the world and was willing to talk about anything I wanted to talk about. Something extraordinary had happened all right. We walked slowly in step. "Jack," she said, squeezing me tight and smiling at the Negro shacks, "you and I have always been good buddies, haven't we?" "Yes ma'am." My heart gave a big pump and the back of my neck prickled like a dog's. "I've got bad news for you, son." She squeezed me tighter than ever. "Scotty is dead. Now it's all up to you. It's going to be difficult for you but I know you're going to act like a soldier." This was true. I could easily act like a soldier. Was that all I had to do?

It reminds me of a movie I saw last month out by Lake Pontchartrain. Linda and I went out to a theater in a new suburb. It was evident somebody had miscalculated, for the suburb had quit growing and here was the theater, a pink stucco cube, sitting out in a field all by itself. A strong wind whipped the waves against the seawall; even inside you could hear the racket. The movie was about a man who lost his memory in an accident and as a result lost everything: his family, his friends, his money. He found himself a stranger in a strange city. Here he had to make a fresh start, find a new place to live, a new job, a new girl. It was supposed to be a tragedy, his losing all this, and he seemed to suffer a great deal. On the other hand, things were not so bad after all. In no time he found a very picturesque place to live, a houseboat on the river, and a very handsome girl, the local librarian.

After the movie Linda and I stood under the marquee and talked to the manager, or rather listened to him tell his troubles: the theater was almost empty, which was pleasant for me but not for him. It was a fine night and I felt very good. Overhead was the blackest sky I ever saw; a black wind pushed the lake toward us. The waves jumped over the seawall and spattered the street. The manager had to yell to be heard while from the sidewalk speaker directly over his head came the twittering conversation of the amnesiac and the librarian. It was the part where they are going through the newspaper files in search of some clue to his identity (he has a vague recollection of an accident). Linda stood by unhappily. She was unhappy for the same reason I was happy—because here we were at a neighborhood theater out in the sticks and without a car (I have a car but I prefer to ride buses and streetcars). Her idea of happiness is to drive downtown and have supper at the Blue Room of the Roosevelt Hotel. This I am obliged to do from time to time. It is worth it, however. On these occasions Linda becomes as exalted as I am now. Her eyes glow, her lips become moist, and when we dance she brushes her fine long legs against mine. She actually loves me at these times—and not as a reward for being taken to the Blue Room. She loves me because she feels exalted in this romantic place and not in a movie out in the sticks.

But all this is history. Linda and I have parted company. I have a new secretary, a girl named Sharon Kincaid.


For the past four years now I have been living uneventfully in Gentilly, a middle-class suburb of New Orleans. Except for the banana plants in the patios and the curlicues of iron on the Walgreen drugstore one would never guess it was part of New Orleans. Most of the houses are either old-style California bungalows or new-style Daytona cottages. But this is what I like about it. I can't stand the old-world atmosphere of the French Quarter or the genteel charm of the Garden District. I lived in the Quarter for two years, but in the end I got tired of Birmingham businessmen smirking around Bourbon Street and the homosexuals and patio connoisseurs on Royal Street. My uncle and aunt live in a gracious house in the Garden District and are very kind to me. But whenever I try to live there, I find myself first in a rage during which I develop strong opinions on a variety of subjects and write letters to editors, then in a depression during which I lie rigid as a stick for hours staring straight up at the plaster medallion in the ceiling of my bedroom.

Life in Gentilly is very peaceful. I manage a small branch office of my uncle's brokerage firm. My home is the basement apartment of a raised bungalow belonging to Mrs Schexnaydre, the widow of a fireman. I am a model tenant and a model citizen and take pleasure in doing all that is expected of me. My wallet is full of identity cards, library cards, credit cards. Last year I purchased a flat olive-drab strongbox, very smooth and heavily built with double walls for fire protection, in which I placed my birth certificate, college diploma, honorable discharge, G.I. insurance, a few stock certificates, and my inheritance: a deed to ten acres of a defunct duck club down in St Bernard Parish, the only relic of my father's many enthusiasms. It is a pleasure to carry out the duties of a citizen and to receive in return a receipt or a neat styrene card with one's name on it certifying, so to speak, one's right to exist. What satisfaction I take in appearing the first day to get my auto tag and brake sticker! I subscribe to Consumer Reports and as a consequence I own a first-class television set, an all but silent air conditioner and a very long lasting deodorant. My armpits never stink. I pay attention to all spot announcements on the radio about mental health, the seven signs of cancer, and safe driving—though, as I say, I usually prefer to ride the bus. Yesterday a favorite of mine, William Holden, delivered a radio announcement on litterbugs. "Let's face it," said Holden. "Nobody can do anything about it—but you and me." This is true. I have been careful ever since.

In the evenings I usually watch television or go to the movies. Week-ends I often spend on the Gulf Coast. Our neighborhood theater in Gentilly has permanent lettering on the front of the marquee reading: Where Happiness Costs So Little. The fact is I am quite happy in a movie, even a bad movie. Other people, so I have read, treasure memorable moments in their lives: the time one climbed the Parthenon at sunrise, the summer night one met a lonely girl in Central Park and achieved with her a sweet and natural relationship, as they say in books. I too once met a girl in Central Park, but it is not much to remember. 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 Welles in the doorway in The Third Man.

My companion on these evening outings and week-end trips is usually my secretary. I have had three secretaries, girls named Marcia, Linda, and now Sharon. Twenty years ago, practically every other girl born in Gentilly must have been named Marcia. A year or so later it was Linda. Then Sharon. In recent years I have noticed that the name Stephanie has come into fashion. Three of my acquaintances in Gentilly have daughters named Stephanie. Last night I saw a TV play about a nuclear test explosion. Keenan Wynn played a troubled physicist who had many a bad moment with his conscience. He took solitary walks in the desert. But you could tell that in his heart of hearts he was having a very good time with his soul-searching. "What right have we to do what we are doing?" he would ask his colleagues in a bitter voice. "It's my four-year-old daughter I'm really thinking of," he told another colleague and took out a snapshot. "What kind of future are we building for her?" "What is your daughter's name?" asked the colleague, looking at the picture. "Stephanie," said Keenan Wynn in a gruff voice. Hearing the name produced a sharp tingling sensation on the back of my neck. Twenty years from now I shall perhaps have a rosy young Stephanie perched at my typewriter.

Naturally I would like to say that I had made conquests of these splendid girls, my secretaries, casting them off one after the other like old gloves, but it would not be strictly true. They could be called love affairs, I suppose. They started off as love affairs anyway, fine careless raptures in which Marcia or Linda (but not yet Sharon) and I would go spinning along the Gulf Coast, lie embracing in a deserted cove of Ship Island, and hardly believe our good fortune, hardly believe that the world could contain such happiness. Yet in the case of Marcia and Linda the affair ended just when I thought our relationship was coming into its best phase. The air in the office would begin to grow thick with silent reproaches. It would become impossible to exchange a single word or glance that was not freighted with a thousand hidden meanings. Telephone conversations would take place at all hours of the night, conversations made up mostly of long silences during which I would rack my brain for something to say while on the other end you could hear little else but breathing and sighs. When these long telephone silences come, it is a sure sign that love is over. No, they were not conquests. For in the end my Lindas and I were so sick of each other that we were delighted to say good-by.

I am a stock and bond broker. It is true that my family was somewhat disappointed in my choice of a profession. Once I thought of going into law or medicine or even pure science. I even dreamed of doing something great. But there is much to be said for giving up such grand ambitions and living the most ordinary life imaginable, a life without the old longings; selling stocks and bonds and mutual funds; quitting work at five o'clock like everyone else; having a girl and perhaps one day settling down and raising a flock of Marcias and Sandras and Lindas of my own. Nor is the brokerage business as uninteresting as you might think. It is not a bad life at all.

We live, Mrs Schexnaydre and I, on Elysian Fields, the main thoroughfare of Faubourg Marigny. Though it was planned to be, like its namesake, the grandest boulevard of the city, something went amiss, and now it runs an undistinguished course from river to lake through shopping centers and blocks of duplexes and bungalows and raised cottages. But it is very spacious and airy and seems truly to stretch out like a field under the sky. Next door to Mrs Schexnaydre is a brand new school. It is my custom on summer evenings after work to take a shower, put on shirt and pants and stroll over to the deserted playground and there sit on the ocean wave, spread out the movie page of the Times-Picayune on one side, phone book on the other, and a city map in my lap. After I have made my choice, plotted a route—often to some remote neighborhood like Algiers or St Bernard—I stroll around the schoolyard in the last golden light of day and admire the building. Everything is so spick-and-span: the aluminum sashes fitted into the brick wall and gilded in the sunset, the pretty terrazzo floors and the desks molded like wings. Suspended by wires above the door is a schematic sort of bird, the Holy Ghost I suppose. It gives me a pleasant sense of the goodness of creation to think of the brick and the glass and the aluminum being extracted from common dirt—though no doubt it is less a religious sentiment than a financial one, since I own a few shares of Alcoa. How smooth and well-fitted and thrifty the aluminum feels!

But things have suddenly changed. My peaceful existence in Gentilly has been complicated. This morning, for the first time in years, there occurred to me the possibility of a search. I dreamed of the war, no, not quite dreamed but woke with the taste of it in my mouth, the queasy-quince taste of 1951 and the Orient. I remembered the first time the search occurred to me. I came to myself under a chindolea bush. Everything is upside-down for me, as I shall explain later. What are generally considered to be the best times are for me the worst times, and that worst of times was one of the best. My shoulder didn't hurt but it was pressed hard against the ground as if somebody sat on me. Six inches from my nose a dung beetle was scratching around under the leaves. As I watched, there awoke in me an immense curiosity. I was onto something. I vowed that if I ever got out of this fix, I would pursue the search. Naturally, as soon as I recovered and got home, I forgot all about it. But this morning when I got up, I dressed as usual and began as usual to put my belongings into my pockets: wallet, notebook (for writing down occasional thoughts), pencil, keys, handkerchief, pocket slide rule (for calculating percentage returns on principal). They looked both unfamiliar and at the same time full of clues. I stood in the center of the room and gazed at the little pile, sighting through a hole made by thumb and forefinger. What was unfamiliar about them was that I could see them. They might have belonged to someone else. A man can look at this little pile on his bureau for thirty years and never once see it. It is as invisible as his own hand. Once I saw it, however, the search became possible. I bathed, shaved, dressed carefully, and sat at my desk and poked through the little pile in search of a clue just as the detective on television pokes through the dead man's possessions, using his pencil as a poker.

The idea of a search comes to me again as I am on my way to my aunt's house, riding the Gentilly bus down Elysian Fields. The truth is I dislike cars. Whenever I drive a car, I have the feeling I have become invisible. People on the street cannot see you; they only watch your rear fender until it is out of their way. Elysian Fields is not the shortest route to my aunt's house. But I have my reasons for going through the Quarter. William Holden, I read in the paper this morning, is in New Orleans shooting a few scenes in the Place d'Armes. It would be interesting to catch a glimpse of him.

It is a gloomy March day. The swamps are still burning at Chef Menteur and the sky over Gentilly is the color of ashes. The bus is crowded with shoppers, nearly all women. The windows are steamed. I sit on the lengthwise seat in front. Women sit beside me and stand above me. On the long back seat are five Negresses so black that the whole rear of the bus seems darkened. Directly next to me, on the first cross seat, is a very fine-looking girl. She is a strapping girl but by no means too big, done up head to toe in cellophane, the hood pushed back to show a helmet of glossy black hair. She is magnificent with her split tooth and her Prince Val bangs split on her forehead. Gray eyes and wide black brows, a good arm and a fine swell of calf above her cellophane boot. One of those solitary Amazons one sees on Fifty-seventh Street in New York or in Neiman Marcus in Dallas. Our eyes meet. Am I mistaken or does the corner of her mouth tuck in ever so slightly and the petal of her lower lip curl out ever so richly? She is smiling—at me! My mind hits upon half a dozen schemes to circumvent the terrible moment of separation. No doubt she is a Texan. They are nearly always bad judges of men, these splendid Amazons. Most men are afraid of them and so they fall victim to the first little Mickey Rooney that comes along. In a better world I should be able to speak to her: come, darling, you can see that I love you. If you are planning to meet some little Mickey, think better of it. What a tragedy it is that I do not know her, will probably never see her again. What good times we could have! This very afternoon we could go spinning along the Gulf Coast. What consideration and tenderness I could show her! If it were a movie, I would have only to wait. The bus would get lost or the city would be bombed and she and I would tend the wounded. As it is, I may as well stop thinking about her.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Moviegoer by Walker Percy. Copyright © 1961 Walker Percy. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Moviegoer 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Moviegoer is a must-read for anyone interested in existentialism, or who also enjoys Camus or Hesse. However, like just about any existential story, you cannot sit and wait for a plot twist to keep you interested: the real enjoyment of such novels comes through the interpretation of the author's message. Each character in Percy's novels represents a subtle point he wants to make about society, and it is that interpretation or unlocking of his meaning that makes the whole story worthwhile.

Sometimes it requires multiple readings in order for it to be clear, but I can guarantee that if you really pay attention to this book and others by Percy and those mentioned above, you will not look at people or society exactly the same way again (Which is really the point, as opposed to just a thrilling plot or romantic affair). So if you want to learn something, both about yourself and the community you fit into, this is an excellent book to start out with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was not familiar with Walker Percys work or "The Moviegoer" and read this as a nook recommendation. Although written over fifty years ago, the theme of lost values and searching for a place is maybe even more relevant today. A book worth reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. It's humorous and philosophical. Kate is the perfect Dostoevsky female.
TheMonkeyMan More than 1 year ago
One horrible book. Really, I tried to read it twice because the first time through told me nothing about it. It's a bunch of egotistical rambling about a person who is unhappy with his life. There is nothing engaging about this book whatsoever. Would not recommend despite its awards.
camcgee97 More than 1 year ago
Ought to be required reading, and not just because it's a shining example of the so- called "existential" novel. "The Moviegoer" has all of the southern style you would expect form a Louisiana native, but what really makes it shine is Percy's intimacy with the modern American soul. Percy's novels, of which "The Moviegoer" was the first, peer into the psyche much like Dr. Thomas More's Ontological Lapsometer, which Percy wrote about in "Love in The Ruins." This nearly unparalleled depth of understanding of the human condition matched with a unique sense of humor and the novelists' ability to put a face on difficult ideas is what makes Percy's work worth reading, and all these things are present in abundance in "The Moviegoer."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I suspect that many Walker Percy fans ( I am one of them) are somewhat outside of the mainstream of the average novel reader. So if you are new to Percy's writing it might be a good idea to checkout a few book reviews before you begin. For me there is no one like Percy. This is my second go around with "The Moviegoer," but with several of his other works it has been three re-reads! The plot and characters he has created are quite unique. The story is always intriguing and provides lots to think about. That is not to say that there aren't comic moments along the way. All in all, the book was a great pleasure for me to read (again). I hope the same will be true for you if you decide to look into "The Moviegoer."
DanMorgan More than 1 year ago
Faulkner's influence upon Walker Percy is easily seen in The Moviegoer. Conciously, or not, Percy has retold the tale of self-abnegation for love, only it leads to a salvation of sorts - undoubtedly due to Percy's deep and abiding Catholic sensibilities. A young man adrift finds love in an unlikely place, earns a bit of social stigma and rebuke, only in the Percy telling, the two seem to work out and all is forgiven. Even most of the scenery is the same, New Orleans, Chicago, and the Gulf Coast. There is a suffocating, languid sense of time in the story as well. But it works superbly in showing the forces which the protagonist must over come. The slow pace of life in New Orleans, coupled with the city's entire social and economic scenes tied so inimately to Mardi Gras/Krewe traditions leads to a certain inertia. To escape, at least mentally, Binx must spend most evenings at the theater, leading a voyeuristic and escapist life in his head. It is only when he breaks out of the cycle and routine, does his life make some progress, although with great risk to relations with his family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found myself putting this book down over and over and forgetting to pick it back up again for weeks at a time. I did finally complete the novel and felt that it was a worthy expedition, however flawed and dry it was at times.
edwinbcn on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Rather a light read, and oddly enough, to get a clue as to what the book is about, one should pay attention rather to the books mentioned in the novel, than the movies. I bought this book a few years ago, because nothing else was available. I was not sure whether I would like it, and over the years, between buying and reading it, a feeling had grown on me that I might not like it. However, having read the book now, I feel, though not exalted, it is a somewhat interesting book, for the time it was written.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Unlike some of Percy's other novels, this is a fairly straightforward novel that presents itself as an indepth character study, complex in conception if not in design. The writing here is both elegant and striking, and I'd recommend it as a classic character study exploring the twentieth century American's position in a world understood as extraordinary, and experienced as mundane. It's a quiet book, and one worth exploring---surprisingly addictive once begun.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing 8 months ago
When The Moviegoer was first published in 1961, it won the National Book Award and established Walker Percy as one of the leading novelists of the South. In his portrait of a boyish New Orleans stockbroker wavering between ennui and the longing for redemption, Percy managed to create an American existentialist saga. On the eve of his thirtieth birthday, Binx Bolling is adrift. He occupies himself dallying with his secretaries and going to movies, which provide him with the "treasurable moments" absent from this real life. Every night at dusk, when the Gulf breeze stirs the warm, heavy air over New Orleans, a 29-year-old wanderer named Binx Bolling emerges from his apartment, carrying in his hand the movie page of his newspaper, his telephone book and a map of the city. With these documents, Binx proceeds to chart his course to that particular neighborhood cinema in which he will spend his evening. But one fateful Mardi gras, Binx embarks on a quest ¿ a search for authenticity that outrages his family, endangers his fragile cousin, Kate, and sends him reeling through the gaudy chaos of the French Quarter. Eventually through this "search" Binx rediscovers himself by having to face the far more desperate problems of Kate who as she sinks deeper within herself, finds only Binx can talk to her. And in the end, Binx decides to change by making decisions, taking risks, and opening himself to suffering--in other words, by accepting reality. Wry and wrenching, rich in irony and romance, The Moviegoer is a genuine American classic.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I felt like I was doing this book a disservice by reading it. I was bored half the time and I really couldn't tell you why. I guess I didn't fall in love with the main character as quickly or as easily as I wanted to. What is there to say? Binx "Jack" Bolling is a 29 year old stock broker who dates his secretaries. He's good at what he does so he earns everyone (including himself) a lot of money. He appears to be a shallow man who spends most of his free time going to the movies. The majority of the story takes place in New Orleans which was fun. I have always been fascinating by that area of the south.For the most part The Moviegoer was a social commentary on a man who prefers to watch life from the sidelines. He doesn't spend a great deal of effort actually getting out there and making things happen. He has no clue who he is. Probably the most telling moment of the story is when Binx is being questioned: "'What do you love? What do you live by?' [he is asked.] I am silent'" is his reply (p 226). He can't even answer the question of what he holds sacred, of what makes him live.
JimmyChanga on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I LOVED it! This book really seems kin to me or something, on some level. But there is so much there, it feels like an idea driven book, but not in an impersonal abstract way, which is what is remarkable about it. I felt very connected. I don't know if I understand a lot of it, but I feel it anyway. There were many passages that I just wanted to copy and save somewhere that was easily accessible so I could read it over and over again, for the language and the ideas, both. And parts of it were so FUNNY! One thing I didn't get, I probably just missed it somewhere, but who is Rory? He seems to be addressing this Rory character throughout the book. I have many more questions, and wanted to re-read it immediately afterwards. But I think it's probably a good idea to wait and let it settle first.
Discursive on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is a spectacular novel, replete with all the mordant humor and superb characterization that one expects from an eminent Southern author. The Moviegoer is fundamentally a meditation on identity, authenticity, and reality itself. The protagonist, Mr. Binx Bolling, is possessed by a need to discover some meaning underpinning his plodding and unsatisfying life. For Binx, movies proffer a sort of mythical framework through which the rest of his reality is tinged and vivified. The work is a joy to read, and switches readily between the riotously funny and the utterly haunting. This is the work that established Percy as a great Southern author in the line of Faulkner, O'Connor, Agee, Welty, and Tate. I absolutely could not recommend it more highly.
mrminjares on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is a book about a man with equal interests in money and women. He seems to float carelessly about New Orleans, but he does it in a way that presents no conflicts or concerns. He doesn't have any strong desires. Instead the women in his life lead him through conflicts and adventures, and he just watches himself get dragged along. I didn't like the main character and the book reflects the same sense of vapid thoughtlessness we see in this main character. If he were more compelling, I would have enjoyed the book more.
dreamingtereza on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this foray into "Kierkegaard's narrative." No, the novel doesn't say much, but it's not supposed to, I guess. And Percy has a wonderfully charming manner of saying nothing.
paisley1974 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I didn't like the macho posturing of the protagonist, and found his sexist perspective difficult to swallow. I did enjoy the descriptions of New Orleans neighborhoods; once one has lived there, one can't get enough of the local color. It does capture a certain post-war ennui, but in all, I really didn't enjoy it.
jssdrlnd on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I read The Moviegoer at least once every year. This is my favorite novel.
JBreedlove on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A tough one to rate. After reading fast paced Bond and Dave Robicheaux novels a subtle slice of life from the past in a southern novel was initially slow. But reading is not all constant suspense and titillation. This book from the past and its references to the past and the near combustible southern future was a well written thoughtful look at modern life and how one should live it. In a time that today we may think of as almost pre-modern people were struggling with change and how to live in it. Just like today. Truly thought provoking with racial references and attitudes which would possibly not be allowed in today's works.
translator on LibraryThing 10 months ago
It's one of my favorite books. It's true, there is not much of a plot in it, but this is part of the "message" as I understand it. Being on the search means that there's not necessarily a red line leading through a story with a clear cut plot line. And perhaps this is just one reason that makes this novel quite exceptional.What makes this book so awesome to me is the protagonist¿s (Binx Bolling) existential state of loneliness, in fact it is not only his state but humankind¿s as a whole taking the existentialist¿s point of view: being conscious of oneself and not knowing why one exists, loaded with an indefinite responsibility. The typical answers that might give meaning to human life, love, wealth (not art!) are unmasked as illusions easily. Yes, it reminds of Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby in some ways. It is this strangely purposeless (is it?) life filled up with horror on different layers of meaning, a silent horror in some ways, which all seems to be accepted in a somewhat stoical way. What adds up to the authenticity of this "human search" is not described with importunity but inwardly, quiet, and even gentle. At the same time I read it as a criticism against a nonsensitive, loud and superficial "Southern environment in the beginning 60ies" (easily to be transported into any other time and place, a ¿chiffre¿ for humankind as it is and was) a normality which lacks any understanding for life's main questions. That this is a major reason for the protagonist's cousin's (Kate) depression is nothing but one more logical consequence in this subtle novel in which there is much understanding for man¿s basic state of existence and its resulting bewilderment.
SharonGoforth on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Walker Percy's writing is excellent, which is why I gave this 4 stars. But his ideas, although thought provoking, really lead nowhere. Most of the book is spent on Binx's fixation on his "search". At the end, I did not feel there was any real conclusion to the search, which to me made most of the book pointless.
ursula on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I read this but didn't enjoy it much. About Binx Bolling and his search for meaning. I think that I'm not really cut out for existentialism, because navel-gazing and searching for meaning and complaining about malaise aren't really features I enjoy in a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago