The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

The Moviegoer - Walker Percy

#60 on the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century.


This book reminded me of Dostoevsky's Notes From Underground, with its young(ish) male protagonist adrift and wandering the city (or cities: here New Orleans and Chicago). Binx Bolling is perhaps a few hairs less cynical, but he's preoccupied by a "search" for meaning that bucks expectations of him: expectations of his family, primarily. He does not appear to be comfortable in his own skin or to even know what that skin is. He's certainly not at home in the world. He likes and loathes many people at the same time. I can't even say whether I think he's a "good person" or not.


My favorite thing about this book is its prose and the fine grain of its observations. Many times I identified with Binx as he felt alienated from his family and life generally. I wasn't exactly depressed by this book, but the overarching narrative leaned toward the episodic as Binx wanders around. Its story doesn't have a strong narrative thrust; sometimes I was jolted or confused by shifts in place, and there are a lot of characters to keep straight.


This is the type of book I think I'd appreciate more if I'd read it in a class. I don't feel I completely "get" the book, but I did like the journey for the most part.