Photo of the Joy Theater by nycgeo used under a Creative Commons license.
Walker Percy, The Moviegoer (Vintage, 1998).
Percy won the National Book Award in 1962 for this, his first published novel. Binx Bolling, a veteran of the Korean War, lives in the (fictitious) suburb of Gentilly, in Feliciana Parish, and works as a stockbroker in New Orleans. He daydreams, and carries on with his secretaries, one after another. And he goes to the movies, which are more real and carry more meaning for him than the rest of his life. If this is isn’t depression, it’s surely ennui. The plot of the novel, such as it is, follows this anti-hero’s “search” for meaning.
Many internet sites offer free term papers; none of the following do. Robert Massie reviewed it in The New York Times in 1961. More recently, C. Max Magee reviewed it at The Millions. The New York Times‘ Reading Room blog recently had a two-week discussion of The Moviegoer, starting with this post. This link yields more of the posts, albeit in reverse chronological order. In the discussion, Julia Reed says the book is a “spot on” portrayal of New Orleans. Scott Esposito and Vidalia blog about it. Time picked it as one of the 100 best English-language novels since 1923 (?). Darren Hughes didn’t know what to do with himself after Hurricane Katrina so he sat down and read The Moviegoer. Steven Higgins says the book has been misinterpreted. And Brett Yates writes about Percy and his works.