Side Piece – The Moviegoer

moviegoer The title sets you up for a different sort of book, but it’s not about that. Sure Binx Bolling, goes to the movies, often and in earnest, but the book was more about coping with depression and the search for meaning. Binx, a New Orleans patrician with a Midas touch in the stock market and with the ladies, isn’t content to take his due place in polite society and put it on cruise control for 50-years. Instead, he is obsessed with his vertical, then horizontal “search.” The search with its “rotations” and “repetitions” is one for meaning and escape from tedium. As illustration, one morning Binx wakes up in the grip of everydayness. In such a state the search itself is not possible. In a fit of rage he rolls off the bed, the shock of which loosens the grip of the malaise and he vows “I’m a son of a bitch if I’ll be defeated by the everydayness.”

Binx has many interesting takes…on the upper class, liberals vs. conservatives, his Aunt’s black butler, Southern Belles springing from the loins of rednecks by the millions, the return to the same movie seat after a 14-year absence and being subjected to other people’s personal rays. You may think he is a little crazy, but you haven’t even met Cousin Kate yet.

While not quite Hesse, Walker Percy packs plenty of existentialism in the book. Not a must have on the book shelf, but bear in mind The Moviegoer did defeat Revolutionary Road, Catch 22, Franny & Zoey, and books by Maxwell and Malamud for the National Book Award, so any philosophical or literary friends that see it on your bookshelf will rate you a tad higher than they did when they came through the door.

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