I read The Moviegoer when I was in high school, and I hated it, though I knew I should have liked it. For years, I’ve claimed not to be a fan of Southern lit in general – with exceptions like A Confederacy of Dunces and, more recently, Faulkner. I’m not sure why I don’t like it. Maybe it’s because I hear the words in my head with a heavy southern drawl.
Anyway, months ago, I decided to give The Moviegoer a second try, and I finally got around to it. I remembered almost nothing about it, but I had a feeling I’d like it more now. The protagonist is exactly my age, 29 and about to turn 30, and he has a lot of the general life issues that I have, so I can totally empathize with him. Here’s an example:
Today is my thirtieth birthday and I sit on the ocean wave in the schoolyard and wait for Kate and think of nothing. Now in the thirty-first year of my dark pilgrimage on this earth and knowing less than I ever knew before, having learned only to recognize merde when I see it, having inherited no more from my father than a good nose for merde, for every species of shit that flies – my only talent – smelling merde from every quarter, living in fact in the very century of merde, the great shithouse of scientific humanism where needs are satisfied, everyone becomes an anyone, a warm and creative person, and prospers like a dung beetle, and one hundred percent of people are humanists and ninety-eight percent believe in God, and men are dead, dead, dead; and the malaise has settled like a fall-out and what people really fear is not that the bomb will fall but that the bomb will not fall – on this my thirtieth birthday, I know nothing and there is nothing to do but fall prey to desire.
The problem with The Moviegoer is that it bored me. I wasn’t bored to put it down, but I wasn’t excited to read it, either. Maybe it’s the drawl drifting through my head – I don’t know – but I just couldn’t get into it. Walker Percy just isn’t my kind of writer.
On a more interesting note, I’ve now read as many books this year as I did in all of 2010. I was on quite a bender, but then I started messing with the Thesis Monster again, and Palmer got me hooked on Warcraft, which is much more fun than you might think it would be. I’ll still hit the big 5-0, just you wait. I’m glad I got ahead in January and February.