This Sunday, May 28, marks the 101st birthday of novelist Walker Percy. In honor of the occasion, we offer this introductory reading guide to his work.
We’ve ordered this list in the order that we think the books should be read, and we offer a brief explanation of why each book was included. We’ve included excerpts of most the books via Google Books.
The Moviegoer, Percy’s debut novel and the 1962 National Book Award winner, tells the story of Binx Bolling, a young stock-broker in postwar New Orleans. The decline of tradition in the Southern United States, the problems of his family and his traumatic experiences in the Korean War have left him alienated from his own life. He day-dreams constantly, has trouble engaging in lasting relationships and finds more meaning and immediacy in movies and books than in his own routine life.
The loose plot of the novel follows The Moviegoer himself, Binx Bolling, in desperate need of spiritual redemption. At Mardi Gras, he breaks out of his caged everyday life and launches himself on a journey, a quest, in “search” of his inner self. Without any mental compass or sense of direction he wanders the streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter, and Chicago, and then travels the Gulf Coast, interacting with his surroundings as he goes. He has philosophical moments, reflecting on the people and things he encounters on the road. He is constantly challenged to define himself in relation to friends, family, sweet-hearts and career despite his urge to remain vague and open to possibility. (via Wikipedia)