Sunday, May 29, 2011
OUT OF MY LEAGUE!
I'm guest-blogging today at the Korrektiv Press Blog on the subject of Walker Percy's novel "The Moviegoer." Subject: "The Moviegoer" in the Internet Age. Percy fans will also find at the Korrektiv blog guest posts on Percy by people who are infinitely smarter and more qualified to comment on the book than I am.
What's all the fuss about "The Moviegoer?" It's the fiftieth anniversary of the book's publication, which won The National Book Award in 1962. Aside from all that, it is one of only three novels ever published that I have read not once, not twice, but three times. It's that rich and worth my time ("Anna Karenina" and "Pride and Prejudice" are the other two).
The book is about a suburban stock-broker, Binx Bolling, who embarks on "the search" for a way to get out of the everydayness and malaise of his life. Binx is a selfish person, who loves watching movies, making money and flirting with pretty women. Yet, his identity is divided between his father's family, which is wealthy, cultured, and non-religious, and his mother's family, which is working-class and devoutly Catholic.
Here's a snippet from a scene near the end of the book when Binx sees a man exiting a Church on Ash Wednesday. I think it exemplifies the fruits of the search, and nearly every endeavor that's worth taking on:
"When he gets in his Mercury, he does not leave immediately but sits looking down at something in the seat beside him....I watch him closely in the rear-view mirror. It is impossible to say why he is here. Is it part and parcel of the complex business of coming up in the world? Or is it because he believes that God himself is present here at the corner of Elysian Fields and Bons Enfants? Or is he here for both reasons: through some dim dazzling trick of grace, coming for the one and receiving the other as God's own importunate bonus?
It is impossible to say."