The Moviegoer

by Walker Percy

Picture this. Dostoyevsky's "Underground" man and Camus' "Stranger" hook up with Tennessee Williams. The three of them somehow spawn a love child. And there you have the essence of Walker Percy's The Moviegoer.

The first seventeen pages of this novel are fabulously written, & I have such high hopes. But then the story devolves into all that I hate about southern literature: No character is really sane, and things like death, suicide, & substance abuse reign supreme. I don't get what's going on much of time as nobody's motivation makes any sense. (Well, the main character chases girls in a very male & authentically realized way. That would be the only exception, and those passages are fun to read.) The first seventeen pages really explain the title and make it work as a theme. And then that's where I would end it & you'd have a lovely, haunting, and genuinely compelling delight of a short story. I don't get the other 225 pages, and I don't get how this book ever made it onto the list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Classic Bitch finds it a mediocre read at best.

When this book first comes out, Time magazine gives it a rave review saying things like, "Percy has a rare talent for making his people look and sound as though they were being seen and heard for the first time by anyone." I would contend that that's because people don't actually look or sound like that in real life.