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A thought on Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer at 50 October 16, 2011

Posted by The Typist in books, New Orleans, NOLA, novel, Odd Words, Toulouse Street.
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No I didn’t make the conference. My request for a press pass went unanswered and I did not fail to attend out of pique but because I had enough else to do that I had to make choices (the wonderful Midsummer Night’s Dream over the keynote, too many chores to ignore Saturday). If anyone who attended wants to submit a write up of say 1500 words, please do. I would be glad to have it.

I am posting this because Micheal Zell of Crescent City Books rises to champion John Kennedy Toole in the comments on the last Odd Words and now I a tempted to spoil my Sunday’s other plans by diving back into both books to make my point, a task that would keep me up well past midnight if I started now.

In short the question is: did Walker Percy champion Toole’s novel because he saw in it a brilliant parody of his own The Moviegoer and was flattered? It just came to my in a flash this morning but the parallels between Rielly and Binx are just to close and cute to dismiss. Hell, I wish this had come to me for some other reason six months ago, or I might have submitted a paper to the conference. If I do end up returning to U.N.O. to try to finish my degree, it would make an excellent thesis topic.

Don’t comment here. Wander back to the original post’s comments if you have some thoughts on the matter rather than post them here.

Also, in writing my response I stumbled across Bookslut’s excellent review and the original New York Times’ review. Whether your decompressing from the conference over coffee or missed it as I did, consider this some timely and apt Sunday morning reading.

Bookslut predictably takes up the issue of Percy’s depiction of race and the sexes in the mid-century South, which I wonder is a barrier to the young, modern reader (except perhaps a thesis exercise in deconstructing the work according to the latest quasi-Marxist pedagogy). At my age, I forgive him his trespasses and we tolerate elderly relatives, and recognize that the man was writing about his millieu, not defending it. Perhaps modern graduates in Me Studies have addressed this issue and dismissed it as Dead White Male sophistry but to do so is to misunderstand fundamentally how literature works.

So: go look at my potential new house to rent, clean up this place and do some laundry while watching the game or dive into the Moviegoer? I think you know my inclination.

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