Category Archives: The Moviegoer

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Last weekend, I also finished reading Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, just in time for my book club’s discussion of this piece of classic Southern literature (my book club started it’s discussion a bit later than planned).

I’m happy to report that I liked this novel! It was a bit slow to start, but Binx Bolling’s search for meaning is timeless. 

Given that this was written by a Southern writer, I was surprised to find a few references to Buddhism. Here’s one: “My aunt likes to say she is an Episcopalian by emotion, a Greek by nature, and a Buddhist by choice.”

Here are a few other quotes I liked from The Moviegoer:

Only in time of illness or disaster or death are people real.

I do believe the South has produced more high-minded women, women of universal sentiments than any other section of the country except possibly New England in the last century. Of my six living aunts, five are women of the loftiest theosophical panBrahman sentiments.

By heaven she is just like the girls in the movies who won’t put out until you prove to them what a nice unselfish fellow you are, a lover of children and dogs.

And considering the title I was surprised to find references not just to movies but also to many books:

Of course a fair number of movies were also mentioned:

I’ve haven’t seen any of the movies mentioned and read only a few of the books mentioned. I think I would like to read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet and I’ve been meaning to read Grace Metalious’s Peyton Place. And of course I have to make it a priority to read Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

All in all, I liked this book a lot more than Carson McCullers’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (click here to view my posts on that book).

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The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

I’ve just started reading The Moviegoer by Walker Percy for a book club.

I’ve been so busy this summer I found myself with just a few days to read this book club selection, which won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1962.

The Moviegoer concerns the life of the searching and rootless Binx Bolling, a young stockbroker in post-war New Orleans.

It is said to be a classic piece of Southern Literature, like Carson McCullers’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter — which I also read for a book club and did not particularly enjoy (click here to read all my posts related to The Heart is a Lonely Hunter).

So I am keeping my expectations for The Moviegoer low.

I’ll write more once I finish and again after my book club’s discussion.

If you are also reading this for a book club, you may be looking for discussion questions:

Discuss why John feels that everyone around him is dead, although they are obviously still living. What makes him feel this way?

How does the title of “The Moviegoer” relates to the theme of the book?

What is the root of Kate’s depression? What terrifies her the most in life?

Explain the significance of Aunt Emily’s home, Elysian Fields?

Got to finish this book quick!

More Library Books

I went to the library today with the intention of return a few books and leaving empty handed. As usual, I proved incapable of resisting the lure of more books and I left with seven more (seems to be about what I can justify borrowing on a whim without feeling like I’ve gone completely overboard).

I’m sure I did overdo it but since I need to read one for a book club and I’ve already written about my interest in all the others, I don’t feel too silly.

I checked out:

I first heard about Cullen Murphy’s Are We Rome? about a year ago at the Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square and my interest in this book was renewed when someone in I.O.U.S.A. compared the United States to Rome. As a loyal reader of The Atlantic, I have great respect for Murphy who was their managing editor for two decades. I have high expectations for this book and hope I will not be disappointed. Click here to read an excerpt.

And I suppose the Democratic and Republican National Conventions have once again piqued my interest in speechwriters, so naturally White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters by Robert Schlesinger caught my eye.

With all the talk of tough times, economically, for the average American and the outrage over the recently released GAO data that most U.S. Corporations pay no income tax, I just couldn’t resist picking up Steven Greenhouse’s The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker. I hope it provides new information and doesn’t overlap too much with David Cay Johnston’s Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill) and Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich – and Cheat Everybody Else.

And like most Americans, all I know about Joe Biden I’ve learned from reading the news (in my case the New York Times) these past few weeks. It hasn’t added up to much. I hope to get a better sense of the Democratic Nominee for Vice President from his 2007 memoir Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics.

I tried to keep myself to just five books but when I saw Nuland’s The Uncertain Art sitting on the shelf, I had to borrow it — it’s been a few months since I’ve read any books related to medicine or the human body and as a scientist I am compelled to reading science books. And all the talk about our nation’s broken health care system makes this book about medicine from a doctor’s perspective all the more irresistible.

And as I was about to leave, I saw Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto which I’ve wanted to read since January when I read Janet Maslin‘s review titled “Obsessed With Nutrition? That’s an Eating Disorder” and published January 3, 2008 in the NYTimes Book Review). I suppose my new gardening hobby (influenced by reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life and Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future) has made me even more interested in learning about food and nutrition. Click here to read the introduction of In Defense of Food on the author’s website or here to read the first chapter on the NYTimes Book Review website.

Alright, I think I’ve spent enough time trying to justify my borrowing way too many books — I’ve got to get to reading now! My book club’s discussion of Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer is scheduled to start in three days!