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The Moviegoer by [Percy, Walker]
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The Moviegoer Kindle Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 267 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

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.


“A brilliant novel . . . Percy touches the rim of so many human mysteries.” —Harper’s
“Clothed in originality, intelligence, and a fierce regard for man’s fate.” —Time
“Percy is a brilliantly breathtaking writer.” —The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

  • File Size: 901 KB
  • Print Length: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (March 29, 2011)
  • Publication Date: March 29, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004TLVNH0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,417 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Walker Percy was forty-six years old when his first published novel, "The Moviegoer", was awarded the National Book Award in 1962. It was, in some sense, the public beginning of the second half of Percy's life for, as Percy himself wrote in 1972: "Life is much stranger than art-and often more geometrical. My life breaks exactly in half: 1st half=growing up Southern and medical; 2nd half=imposing art on 1st half." But what, exactly, did Percy mean when he said this? In some sense, "The Moviegoer" is the beginning of an answer.
Percy was born in 1915 and lived his early life in Birmingham, Alabama. His grandfather committed suicide when Walker was an infant and his father, too, committed suicide in 1929. Following his father's suicide, his mother moved Walker and his two brothers to Mississippi. Percy's family was one of the oldest families in the South and he and his brothers soon found a father figure in the form of his cousin, William Alexander Percy, known affectionately as Uncle Will. Three years after his father's suicide, Percy's life was again marked by tragedy when his mother's car went off a bridge, killing her and leaving Walker and his brothers in the charge of his Uncle Will.
Percy went to medical school at Columbia University, where he contracted tuberculosis during his internship. In and out of sanitariums for several years, he finally returned to the South in his early 30s, getting married in 1946 and settling in the New Orleans area, where he lived the remainder of his life. It was at this time that Percy received an inheritance from his Uncle Will that allowed him to devote himself completely to his long-standing interest in literature and philosophy.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review is less academic and far more personal. Having been born in Louisiana, having lived most my life in the U.S, having corresponded w/the author before he died, and now having lived five years in Nicaragua, Percy's novel has become even more compelling. The malaise that Binx and Kate experience definitely has nothing to do w/people who spend all their day finding food for themselves and their children. What I would hope, one day, to find in the customer reviews of those who have read The Moviegoer is that it has changed their lives: motivated them to look at the entire world around them -- and begin to change it for the better, even in little steps, as Binx does in his movement away from superficiality and the emptiness of acquiring "things." He moves away from money and commercialism to compassion and being able to take care of people. He moves from lust to love, from intellectualizing to a desire for genuine spirituality. That doesn't mean belonging to a church; it means belonging to the human race: all of it, in its various forms, no matter how different they seem. Percy was clearly interested in the inner growth of self, but he also cared about the world each "self" inhabits. One of his opinions was that the problem of hatred between whites and blacks in the U.S. may eventually lead to the country's downfall. Percy's ultimate message, through Binx, is the necessity for love ... however subtle that message may seem to be conveyed in the circuitous route Binx follows in his search. As it is for Binx, it is the challenge of every indidivual to conduct his own search: to begin solving problems not adding to them, to acquire humanity not its products. Nor can a reader expect the search to be "spelled out." Doing that destroys the integrity of the process, the engagement that is essential to continual exploration -- not simply to find things but to understand what and how life means.
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Format: Paperback
The novel takes place over the course of one week, Mardi Gras week, in New Orleans, and concerns Binx Bolling, the eponymous moviegoer, who will turn thirty in the course of the novel.

Binx is also the narrator of the novel, and it's his voice that gives the book its unique humor, irony, and poignance; a plot synopsis does not do justice to the complexity and compellingness of this influential novel. Binx, a dreamy stockbroker and scion of an old patriarchal New Orleans family, is (he tells us confidentially) on a search. The nature of Binx's search is only vaguely understood by the reader, but Binx himself seems to know exactly what he's talking about when he uses his own peculiar vocabulary to describe aspects of the search (words like "repetition" and "rotation" are specialized jargon in Binx's idiom, used to refer to specific phenomenon.) Percy's great achievement with this novel is handling the subtle variations of distance between the reader and Binx: Is he an entirely trustworthy narrator? Is he demented, dishonest, insane? Is he putting us on? Or does he distrust the reader? Does he know we're watching him? Binx slyly takes his part in the affairs of his family and community, all the while commenting sardonically on various aspects of modern American spirituality, all the while conducting his "search," which leads him to cross paths with his equally insane cousin, Kate, and to incur the wrath of his aristocratic old aunt.

It's a very funny, very moving, ultimately heartbreaking book, for we are never sure what has become of Binx and his search. Was his spirit defeated, or does he merely withdraw to conduct his search further outside of the reader's eye?
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