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Moviegoer [Paperback]

Walker Percy
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)

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Audio, CD CDN $19.95's 2014 Books Gift Guide
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Book Description

June 1974
Binx Bolling, a small-time stockbroker in suburban New Orleans, lives out his days pursuing an interest in the movies and affairs with his secretaries. But one fateful Mardi Gras week, a bizarre series of events leads him on a search for some spiritual truth to anchor him.
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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This elegantly written account of a young man's search for signs of purpose in the universe is one of the great existential texts of the postwar era and is really funny besides. Binx Bolling, inveterate cinemaphile, contemplative rake and man of the periphery, tries hedonism and tries doing the right thing, but ultimately finds redemption (or at least the prospect of it) by taking a leap of faith and quite literally embracing what only seems irrational. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

"Mr. Percy is a brethtakingly brilliant writer." --The New York Times Book Review

"Clothed in originality, intelligence, and a fierce regard for man's fate. . . . Percy has a rare talent for making his people look and sound as though they were being seen and heard for the first time by anyone." --Time

"A brilliant novel. . . . Percy touches the rim of so many human mysteries." --Harper's --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go get this one Feb. 11 2005
By J.Jones
The Moviegoer strikes the perfect balance between ideas and people. He succeeds in writing a book about loneliness and isolation without ever seeming sappy or sentimental; he creates a whole cast of fully developed characters who are deeply flawed but always sympathetic. And one is always struck by the strangeness of the characters. They are absolute originals. I haven't met anyone like Kate in the pages of a novel before or since, but one still somehow relates to every one of them, and can feel connections with their longing for . . . in any case, all of that is irrelevant. It is a great book, I encourage everyone to read it. Also try Jackson McCrae's "Children's Corner" or his "Bark of the Dogwood" for equally great southern reads-intricate and haunting all of these.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Challenging and complex. June 10 2004
If a novelist, any novelist, could put down on paper an exact representation of human thought, he or she would automatically be elevated to the very pinnacle of the literary world. But because language has limitations, this very desirable circumstance is, unfortunately, not possible. Walker Percy has nonetheless tried valiantly to do this very thing. In The Moviegoer, the reader is made privy to the articulated thoughts of Binx Bolling, a young New Orleans stockbroker. Binx explicitly tells us he is on a search. A search for something outside the everyday things that make up his life. Something that will ultimately give his life meaning and thereby fill the emptiness in his heart.
Of course, there really isn't anything outside everyday existence that can measure up to what he is seeking. The meaning of life, if indeed there is any, can only be found in the everyday things Binx regards as completely unfulfilling. This existentialist outlook is the underlying theme of The Moviegoer.
The plot (if that's even the right word) is a minimalistic one that very much suits this novel of the mind. Binx himself provides the narration. In doing so he affects a very formal, unnatural manner of speech, in which words like "thenceforward" and "eschatological" can and do appear.
The Moviegoer is a challenging work of fiction which gives the reader an authentic, nuanced description of life among New Orlean's upper class. Many readers, if not most, are likely to be turned off by its slow pace and seeming wordiness. A thoughtful, thought filled novel, not for everyone.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Where happiness costs so little June 7 2004
The Moviegoer, ranked the #60 book of the 20th Century by the Modern Library, is definitely worth reading -- yet not as profound or intense as I had hoped it would be. It is, without a doubt, not on the same incomparable level of supremacy as A Confederacy of Dunces. It is, however, entertaining and provocative. You follow a New Orleans stockbroker, Binx Bolling, as he lives his life vicariously through movies and their stars.
Binx finds himself at a veritable crossroads at the age of 30 as he has become incredibly disillusioned in a mundane world replete with phoniness and mediocrity. As he attempts to escape from this banality via movies and women, he finds that he is, along with his neurotic cousin Kate, searching for meaning in an otherwise fruitless life. As he duly states, "I have discovered that most people have no one to talk to, no one, that is, who really wants to listen." I recommend this book...just don't expect A Confederacy of Dunces, though.
"Where Happiness Costs So Little"
- The marquee's message at the theater in Gentilly
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent American Existentialism June 6 2004
Percy's book is astonishingly brilliant! This book is the purest and best example of American Existentialism I have ever read. Not only is the conceptual basis of the book and the mental processes of the protagonist incredibly articulated, but the author's ability to use metaphor is one of the most poignant and accomplished abilities that Percy displays in this book.
The true essence of the book is the journey through life that the protagonist takes, in search of avoiding the worst possible state, the "malaise of Everydayness." And even more so, the fight to not become "Anyone" exhibits the basic tenets of the characters focus and philosophy of life. He seeks to find newness that does not exist in the regular day to day vicissitudes of life, but something transcendent. And to fill the time in between, he searches constantly for pleasure, usually in the form of sex with his secretaries.
But as the book proceeds, it gets more and more personal, as well as, more and more complex. Examples of life experiences that the author often calls "rotations" or "duplications" are given. The concept of the "genie-soul" of each location in the world is explored. And the fight against the ordinary goes on.
As in life and existentialism, many of the questions posed are unanswerable, and the author does not really answer them, as any good existentialist writer would not answer them, because they are unanswerable. But it is the way the author portrays these unanswerable questions, that is so elegant and incisive. The reader understands the nebulous state the author is describing and asks himself these questions, but of course, does not have answers either, because, there are no answers, no definitive answers, to those questions.
The interplay of ennui and distinctiveness define the book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost on Bourbon Street
Walker Percy wrote the Moviegoer, a Southern novel with William Faulkner and Truman Capote in mind. The latter writers were certainly more famous though Percy won the National... Read more
Published on July 10 2004 by R. A Rubin
5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle and complex
Subtle, well-crafted, and entertaining, certainly this multifaceted and edifying story is well worth the reading. Read more
Published on June 18 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars It really is "Catcher in the Rye" for adults!
The moviegoer is the story of a man who manages to put off questioning his life decisions until his 30th birthday, when they all come into question. Read more
Published on March 10 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Still here
This book came out quite a while back and it's still around. The reason for this probably has more to do with the wonderful character of Binx Bolling that it does with the... Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't relate
This novel is good but I never got into it. It has too many references to movies and pop culture from that time that went over my head since I haven't seen any of them. Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2004 by John I. Provan
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Novel
Last June (under a year ago), I read this novel for the first time. I just finished reading it for the fifth time. I have never read a novel with which I related more. Read more
Published on May 11 2003 by Oddsfish
1.0 out of 5 stars slow, dull and directionless
Maybe that's what Percy wanted it to be, like Binx himself, but as such, it's pretty dang dull. And that's hard to do when you set the story in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Read more
Published on April 8 2003 by dudesimon
4.0 out of 5 stars Flashes of greatness, but uneven, and a little odd.
This novel is number 60 on the Modern Library's list of the 100 best novels of the 20th century, and it is the only Walker Percy novel on that list. Read more
Published on March 13 2003 by K J Foehr
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow Paced
I read this book with a friend who I discuss books with at the library every month and I have to say I had to really struggle to finish it. Read more
Published on Feb. 5 2003 by Deborah Di Gioia
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