Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Let me preface this by saying that I'm quite sure that nothing in this review will come close to equalling the great one Jeffrey Keeten did, which I am purposely not rereading until after I write this, as it will intimidate the heck out of me.

A large part of that is that I'm still digesting the book, still unsure what it means to me, to others. There is that dissociated drift of the main character still meandering around my head, and I'm not sure if it will ever come to roost. Which is one of Binx Bolling's worries - becoming detached, just Anyone Anywhere, on Any Street. He worries about it so much that the movies are his method of anchoring himself to a time and a place - and the irony of using mass-produced media to make sure you are Someone Particular Somewhere is strong.

Binx drifts through his life after returning from his experiences at war. He makes money, he visits his family, he disappoints his aunt and confuses his mother, he sleeps with his secretaries, and he goes to the movies. He worries about being just one in a crowd - not being just like everyone else, but losing himself so much that he is just one of a faceless thousand. It isn't just that he could be lost to a casual observer, it's that he could be lost to himself.

Binx is intelligent, he seems not without appeal to those who know them, and yet there is always that sense of unreality between him and those around him. Only his cousin, who struggles with her own problems of being in the world, seems to understand. Or does she? Does he?

In some ways, this felt like an American version of The Stranger. But I liked it better. I still feel like The Stranger went over my head, and Binx, while detached from society and its expectations, gave me more to latch onto. Although I still wanted to shake him at times.

The Moviegoer is a hypnotic look at post-war ennui, at detachment, at living in cities, of the search and retreat of one man who is always worried about being swept away from himself.


  1. I like your reviews. Do you still work at a bookstore? I work at a bookstore, and I want to write reviews for all of the books I'm reading, but because of time restraints, I've just been keeping a log of the books I've finished. How many book do you read in a week?

    1. I do not, not for a long time! I worked there during the end of my undergrad, which was over ten years ago. :)

      I generally read three or four books a week, although it can change wildly depending on the books.

      As for reviewing, if you don't have time to do them all, just do a few and see how it goes!