Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Moviegoer - Walker Percy

Plot Synopsis: Binx Bolling is young, affluent, charming and attractive enough to consistently bed his secretaries. But, beneath his "southern gentleman" facade, Binx floats in a void of despair. He lives in fear of becoming an "Anyone living Anywhere," a ghost, and so he anchors himself in the world though movies. Movie going gives Binx the scripts to function in life. Without really comprehending why, responding only to his ennui and emptiness, Binx is on a "search" for meaning and involves his emotionally unstable cousin Kate(now she could be diagnosed "bipolar" or "clinically depressed")in his journey.
Why I Picked This Book for the Southern Reading Challenge When I read the Moviegoer 40 years ago, it was as if Percy were speaking right to me. At the time, I considered it one of the best novels I had ever encountered. The Moviegoer has been compared to Camus' L'Etranger, and 40 years ago, Camus was one of my favorite authors also. (He's from the SOUTH of France. :-) However, I could remember very little about the plot and wondered if it would have the same impact today.
Comments It did. Today we would call Binx a depressed yuppie and quickly recommend that he be put on antidepressants, but Percy has painted a powerful portrait of a young man caught in the malaise of our age - a deadening of the soul and senses. Binx is cut off from truly experiencing the world around him. He is elated when his car crashes because for a short while he really feels alive. Conversing with others draws this reflection, "For some time now this impression has been growing upon me that everyone is dead." In portraying Binx and his world, Percy strikes the right balance between light and dark, humor and philosophy.
The Moviegoer is not a light read, but for me, it was a delight to reacquaint myself with an old friend. The images of the South and of the relationships between black and white were true images of a time long ago. This book will be on college literature lists for a long time to come.


Maggie said...

Love it, Vidalia! Now, I want to read it! I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love and just found myself bawling. Isn't it amazing that an author can put all our thoughts on paper without ever meeting us. :)

Great first Southern book! :D

jenclair said...

Maggie's challenge made me think of Walker Percy and how long since I've read him. I love your comment about reacquainting yourself with an old may be time for me to do so as well.