I finished reading The Moviegoer last week, but you know how it is with me and posting in a timely fashion.
As I noted in my last Moviegoer post, what struck me at the end were how the most real moments for Binx, the times when he's most engaged with real life and interacting in the present, are the least cinematic. The epilogue has no big wedding, no dramatic death-bed scene, no big moments of victory or defeat or theatricality. In the end, there's a touching mundanity to seeing a day in the life of Binx, and there's a humanity at the end that's lacking in the grand analysis and detachment of the first chapter. At the end, I actually liked him. He was just a clever conceit in search of a situation at the beginning of the book, but by the end I recognized him. Someone who has to take charge in the midst of family crisis, to reassure the younger siblings, to support a needy loved one while remaining cheerful and calm? Yeah, I've known guys like that. Heck, I've been that person. That rang true to me, in a way that some of Binx's earlier attitudes didn't. That's Binx living life, as opposed to observing it from Gentilly.
And I gave more credence to Binx's habit of analysis once he proved he was capable of human interaction. Binx's grieving twin sisters are described as sobbing at an impending death, and yet being secretly proud that they're old enough to understand the tragedy. A famous French actor of a few hundred years ago was reported to have remarked, even in the midst of his immediate grief over his father's death, that he needed to remember this emotion so that he could use it on stage. I think that's fair. Unlike the characters in the movies Binx watches, who are swept along with one grand passion at a time, a person in the midst of grief can joke, laugh, stir a pot, discuss the news, and cry, all in the same moment. Life doesn't stop to let people die in a tranquil void. There are still bills to pay, children to tend, and streetcars to be conquered.
I'll tell you how I knew that Binx's mother was a character that Percy found sympathetic: he is elegant in his account of her hay fever. As someone who suffers from sinus afflictions myself (during this changing weather my face blocks up almost solid around 8pm each evening), it's clear to me that Percy could have been very satirical in describing Anna's constant snuffing and nose blowing, and yet he describes it musically, making it an almost endearing trait. That did more than anything else to endear Percy to me.
Teresa of Jesus
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