The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

I finally finished The Moviegoer by Walker Percy last night. Whew! I did really enjoy it, but it was part of my small experiment in reading more than one book at a time. I started reading it months and months ago, and read it in smallish chunks on a regular basis, and then I would be interrupted and I would take a large space of time away from the book. The experiment taught me that I’m not a three-books-at-a-time girl.

The language in this book is beautiful, really pretty. It makes me want to slow down and take it all in, make it last. The slow pace of the book is accentuated by the brief sections the text is broken into.

Published in 1961. Set in New Orleans, I can hardly read a paragraph without being reminded of my extended visit to the city in the late 1990s. It was a gorgeous city with a character all its own; I long to visit again, to know first hand the devastation of Katrina. The Moviegoer is fine, unabashed Southern literature.

The book relates one man’s quest for the meaning of life. In the past, he’s tried a few different avenues without success. Although the book tells us the main character, Binx Bolling, uses sex as one of those paths, Percy’s treatment of the actual act of sex reminds me of Tolstoy’s (and others of his era) hints at same, in how it is discreet, modest, untitillating, and almost leaves the reader wondering what actually happened.

A couple notes on the design of this edition: I’m annoyed by this aspect of the book design: The book uses paragraph symbols as a design element, even using them in italicized form. This makes no sense, and it distracts me from the story. I’ve come to like the unusual cover stock of my edition, but I remain confused by the use of two metallic inks on the cover. They’re hardly visible, so why did they spend the money?

Reading this book, I was able to put into words for the first time, that I am an esoteric person. I often communicate esoterically. I notice and appreciate subtleties in others. If you can identify yourself in this manner, this book is definitely for you. I identify with more than one of the characters, at points. This book has plenty questioning, fumbling, doubting.

This book is on the Top 100 list I’m slowly making my way through. The Moviegoer won the National Book Award in 1962.

Here’s a counterpoint to this review.

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5 responses to “The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

  1. An esoteric wife? Woe is me 😉

  2. I’m only good at reading more than one book at a time if I’m only marginally interested in any of them. My big problem right now is that I’m ENTIRELY engrossed by John Adams, but I’ve got to read The Lady and the Unicorn for the DSBC and a bunch of short stories for the freshman writing classes I start teaching tomorrow. I’m finding it hard to do the reading I HAVE to do when I want to spend my time doing the reading I WANT to do…

  3. Same here. It would work if I didn’t get really caught up in any of them. But that’s hard to avoid, at least for me.

  4. Pingback: Saturday Review of Books: September 6, 2008 at Semicolon

  5. Pingback: Book club books (Faith ‘n’ Fiction Saturday) « Word Lily

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