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The Moviegoer Paperback – April 14, 1998
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In a gentle Southern accent narrator Christopher Hurt delivers the story with a slow, lazy lilt which suits the text and evokes a pervading spiritual emptiness. --AudioFile
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
Mr. Percy is a breathtakingly brilliant writer.--New York Times Book Review
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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Top customer reviews
This book covers themes of ennui, despair, self and selflessness, cultural decline, the promise and failure of religion -- but does so in a vividly personal style. This is a book to savor.
Just read it.
“You remind me of a prisoner in the death house who takes a wry pleasure in doing things like registering to vote."
The observations in the first third of the book are priceless. The second third seemed to become less of an interior narrative, more plot. I found the resolution deep, beautiful. A memorable, meaningful book.
You read The Moviegoer for comfort - you are reassured searching is common. But, it doesn't provide you with the answer to your search - it tries to get you to give up. As unattractive as Binx Bolling is to you, your search is that unattractive to others.
Is Binx's search real or is it an excuse? He could be tackling the hardest question or he could be using it as an excuse for his movie going and secretary chasing. The existential crisis is a perfect trap. The first step is the easiest - realizing many people are fooled into thinking their lives have meaning. Binx is quick to rejects other's beliefs - southern aristocracy or religion. Then the trap: He can deconstruct anything, but he has nothing to replace it with. If you can't find anything meaningful to do, you might as well enjoy a meaningless diversion.
So what is the answer to the search? Frankl flips the question around. "What can you expect from life?" becomes "What does life expect from you?" It is a clever way of saying quite the search; do work, help your fellow man. But life is generally good and easy, so it is easy to convince yourself that life expects very little.
Maybe the answer lies in relationships. Does the chaos of his relationships with his aunt and Kate prevent him from growth. Has being manipulated for so long prevented Binx from forming caring relationship. You get of glimpse of a human, caring Binx. As he cares for his step brothers and sisters you think there may be hope for him.
Binx's primary escape are movies. Today he would escape online. It is interesting to think about the differences. Binx's is attracted to the cinetography of movies - everything more beautiful, loves more intense, and the meaning is clear. The internet offers a different escape than movies. The internet lacks the script and direction of movies, but closer resembles reality and offers almost tactile fantasies - that your internet millions are just waiting for you.
I will admit that I was somewhat disappointed by the novel. I read a couple of chapters with mild interest. I'm from Louisiana but living in Texas, so I was glad to read about the streets of New Orleans, but I quickly found myself getting bored. I put the book down, but an attack of conscience made me pick it back up again. I persevered to the end, but the novel was just as dull at the end as it was in the beginning.
G. K. Chesterton criticizes the modern novel by saying, "The sober realistic novel of to-day discusses what an essential lunatic will do in a dull world." I couldn't sum up this novel better.
[A longer version of this review is on my website.]