[percy-l] Some Thoughts on The Moviegoer

chaslow53 at aol.com chaslow53 at aol.com
Wed Aug 3 12:41:05 EDT 2005

<<Tomorrow on The Connection, books that changed my life series is featuring WP MG. This might be a repeat of the previous one.>>
If it is a repeat, it is well worth hearing.  There is a link to the original program on the Korrektiv blog. 
I was thinking about about Karl's observations on William Holden and Rory Calhoun and celebrity in general, especially in The Moviegoer.  The thing that turned the sighting around was the match, the encounter with the newlyweds.  From there Binx could imagine taking Holden home to the fraternity house.  "Phil, this is Bill Holden."  The incorporation of the celebrity into specific daily life is what makes the event real, whether the incorporation is itself real (the match) or imagined (the frat house introduction).  One of the publishing houses I have worked for was located in SoHo, where from time to time I would see Gwenneth Paltrow on the street.  There was nothing real about these non-encounters at all.  I walked away thinking, ah, this is the beautiful woman I saw virtually naked in Shakespeare in Love, but there was no connection with "real" life, no match, no thought of a fraternity house introduction.
What is interesting is that there are several episodes in the book, and the three that come to mind right now (it is an ever-changing list) are this William Holden sighting, the polished salesman on the train cutting articles out of the paper and Binx and his mother in the fishing camp, anyway, there are episodes that seem to take on greater and greater importance with rereading, incidents that speak to us more forcefully upon rereading.  In that regard, there is a terrific essay in the Summer 2005 Virginia Quarterly Review, by Sven Berkerts.  He discusses his favorite novel, which, shockingly, is not The Moviegoer but Humboldt's Gift (all right, I'm not entirely serious).  He talks about this phenomenon of what we aim for in rereading, in terms which I am pretty sure we can apply as worthily to The Moviegoer as to Humboldt's Gift:
<<I have read Humboldt's Gift four or five times now, and each time it tunes me up differently, not to the point where I would say it's a new novel--for the sense of deep familiarity remains for me one of its magnetic attractions--but in terms of offering me vital new information.  That's the kind of book it is, and don't we all have them--books we reread not for any purpose of overt self-betterment, not to add to our trophy bag, but because they nourish us with clues about the natre of life as we try to solve it for ourselves?>>  Copyright 2005 by The Virginia Qarterly Review (www.vqronline.org), used without permission but without malice.  
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