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The Moviegoer ()

Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (60)

In this National Book Award Winner, John Bickerson "Binx" Bolling is a 29 year old, small-time suburban New Orleans stockbroker. To this point in his life, he's been content to carry on "love affairs" with a succession of secretaries, "the Lindas", & frequent the movies.

"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.... 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."

"I am a stock and bond broker. It is true that my family was somewhat disappointed in my choice of 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..."

But things have suddenly changed, "This morning, for the first time in years, there occurred to me the possibility of a search....the search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life."

And merely, "to become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair."

So we follow Binx during one Mardi Gras as he goes in search of the something that transcends the every day.

Percy was a convert to Catholicism & his books tend to concern men who are at odds with the moral tenor of their times. It is interesting that Richard Ford's The Sportswriter  was compared to The Moviegoer, because it seems to me that Binx Bolling is in many ways a Frank Bascombe in the making. When the novel ends, & his search is presumably over, Binx has made choices that I was not confident would satisfy his desire for transcendence. I fear his search is not over.

I like Walker Percy generally, but I much prefer The Last Gentleman or even The Thanatos Syndrome.


Grade: (C+)


Walker Percy Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Walker Percy
-ESSAY: Walker Percy’s Guide to These Deranged Times (BRIAN A. SMITH, NOVEMBER 9, 2023, Religion & Liberty)
-ESSAY: The Life Issues & the Witness of Walker Percy (Thomas Hubert, November 4th, 2021, Imaginative Conservative)
-ESSAY: WALKER PERCY'S QUESTIONs (John Wilson, 11 . 4 . 22, First Things)
    -ESSAY: The Moviegoer at 60 (MICHAEL WASHBURN, December 27, 2020, National Review)
    -ESSAY: Giving the Sickness a Name Walker Percy & acedia (Jeff Reimer, July 7, 2021, Commonweal)
    -ESSAY: Good Books, Bad Books: Windows into the Human Heart (Steven Garber, June 10, 2003, BreakPoint WorldView)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Hope Amidst Disaster (Titus Techera, 7/03/20, Law & Liberty)

Book-related and General Links:
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA : "walker percy"
    -ESSAY : A View of Abortion, With Something To Offend Everybody (Walker Percy, June 8, 1981, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of BANDITS By Elmore Leonard (Walker Percy, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of A WORLD UNSUSPECTED Portraits of Southern Childhood. Edited, and with an introduction, by Alex Harris (Walker Percy, NY Times Book Review)
    -INTERVIEW : Surviving His Own Bad Habits (Robyn Leary, Double Take Magazine)
    -OBIT : Walker Percy, Is Dead at 74; A Novelist of the New South  (ERIC PACE, NY Times,  May 11, 1990)
    -The Walker Percy Project
    -The Work of Walker Percy: Fiction and Philosophy : Feature essays and interviews on and by Walker Percy
    -Walker Percy (1916 - 1990) (The Internet Public Library, Online Literary Criticism Collection)
    -PROFILE : MORALIST OF THE SOUTH  (Malcolm Jones, NY Times Magazine, March 22, 1987)
    -EXCERPT : First Chapter of Walker Percy : A Life by Patrick Samway
    -ESSAY : Walker Percy and the Christian Scandal (Marion Montgomery, First Things)
    -ESSAY : Awakenings From Narcissism:  A Quest With Walker Percy (Ronald J. Taska, M.D.)
    -ESSAY : Exploration, Travel, Tourism and the Anti-tourist: Looking for Authenticity in All the Wrong Places (Steven Alford)
    -ARCHIVES : "walker percy" (NY Review of Books)
    -ARCHIVES : "walker percy" (Find Articles)
    -ARCHIVES : "walker percy" (Mag Portal)
    -ARCHIVES : "walker percy" (Salon)
    -REVIEW : of The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (Robert Massie, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Lancelot (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of THE THANATOS SYNDROME By Walker Percy (1987) (Gail Godwin, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE THANATOS SYNDROME. By Walker Percy (Michiko Kakutani, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of LOST IN THE COSMOS. The Last Self- Help Book. By Walker Percy (1983)(ANATOLE BROYARD, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of LOST IN THE COSMOS, The Last Self-Help Book. By Walker Percy (Francine Du Plessix Gray, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE CORRESPONDENCE OF SHELBY FOOTE & WALKER PERCY Edited by Jay Tolson (1996)(Robert Wilson, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of The Correspondence of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy Edited by Jay Tolson (Scott Walter, American Enterprise Institute)
    -REVIEW : of CONVERSATIONS WITH WALKER PERCY Edited by Lewis A. Lawson and Victor A. Kramer (1985)( Roger Kimball, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of PILGRIM IN THE RUINS A Life of Walker Percy. By Jay Tolson (Madison Smartt Bell, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Pilgrim in the Ruins: A Life of Walker Percy. By Jay Tolson (Molly Finn, First Things)
    -REVIEW : of Walker Percy A Life. By Patrick H. Samway (Robert Coles, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Walker Percy: A Life, by Patrick Samway (Matthew Carolan, National Review)
    -REVIEW : of Walker Percy : A Life (PAIGE WILLIAMS , Salon)
    -REVIEW : of Walker, Percy: A Life by Patrick Samway (Peter A. Huff, Cross Currents)
    -REVIEW : of Walker Percy : A Life (Robert Brinkmeyer, Brightleaf Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE PERCYS OF MISSISSIPPI Politics and Literature in the New South. By Lewis Baker (Robert Coles, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE HOUSE OF PERCY Honor, Melancholy, and Imagination in a Southern Family. By Bertram Wyatt-Brown (Robert Wilson, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Pilgrim in the Ruins: A Life of Walker Percy by Jay Tolson (Molly Finn, First Things)
    -REVIEW : of The Last Physician: Walker Percy and the Moral Life of Medicine edited by Carl Elliott and John D. Lantos (Peter W. Graham, PhD, JAMA)
    -BOOK LIST : Back to the '50s :  Five favorite novels from a decade that was wilder than you think. (E.L. Doctorow, Salon)

    -The Mississippi Writers Page
    -ESSAY : MODERNISM ON THE MISSISSIPPI: THE SOUTHERN REVIEW 1935-85 (Marc K. Stengel, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of THE WAR WITHIN From Victorian to Modernist Thought in the South, 1919-1945. By Daniel Joseph Singal (David Herbert Donald, NY Times Book Review)

If you liked The Moviegoer, try:

Blatty, William Peter
    -The Exorcist

Camus, Albert
    -The Myth of Sisyphus
    -The Stranger

Chambers, Whittaker

Ford, Richard
    -The Sportswriter     (Read Orrin's review, Grade: B-) (Read Andrew Geller's guest review, Grade: A)

Lewis, C.S.
    -Abolition of Man

Merton, Thomas
    -The Seven Storey Mountain

Moore, Brian
    -Cold Heaven

O'Toole, John Kennedy
    -A Confederacy of Dunces

Pirsig, Robert
    -Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values

Steinbeck, John
    -The Winter of our Discontent

Yglesias, Rafael