These are reviews originally posted to Amazon as customer reviews. They're intended for entertainment and informational purposes only. (Apologies for any typos, bad grammar, or offensive language.) This isn't sponsored by Amazon or represent them in any way, although they do have a very nice site and I recommend checking it out for your next book purchase. Feel free to comment on the books if you've read them or tell me how much my reviews suck or whatever.
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Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Moviegoer

The Moviegoer

by Walker Percy

(3/5 stars)

This is the kind of book I finish reading and have to begin a search of my own. I look for Cliff Notes, Wikkipedia entries, Amazon reviews, anything to help tell me what it is I'm missing, because I put this down after reading the last page and did not see the point.

I have a lot of respect for Binx's "search" because we all go through that at one time or another--a lot of males when they get into their 40s--hoping to find some cure for the ordinariness of daily life. We'd all like to be some adventuring superhero, though I think if we were we'd like nothing more than to settle down with a wife and 2.3 kids in the suburbs--the grass always seems greener on the other side until you get over there.

Still, while the idea of the search is presented, when does Binx really perform this search? Most of the book entails Binx Bolling--stockbroker, skirt-chaser, and silver screen worshiper--talking with his grandma and cousins. The idea presented in the Amazon description that he's rootless seems silly when he has such a close extended family. The problem is more about the conflict between tradition and new thinking. Really the only time when Binx could be said to perform this search is on a trip with his latest secretary and an aborted trip to Chicago with his suicidal cousin Kate, whom he's devoted to if not actually loves.

That demonstrates the problem here in that the novel is too short and too underdeveloped. When you think about it, the search for meaning should really take more than 200-250 pages depending on the size of your font. At that length it's like scaling a gentle hill to find a guru instead of a Himalayan mountain. The most insightful gurus are the ones that are hardest to find because the dangers presented in the search lay the seeker bare so he can truly see inside him/herself.

But I suppose other people have found some meaning in it. Maybe they'll clue me in one of these days.

The Amazon description also called this book funny. It's not really that funny. For something funny set in New Orleans at the same time read "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole, which Walker Percy championed to publication. For more epic soul-searching try "The Adventures of Augie March" by Saul Bellow.

That is all.

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