Thursday, November 17, 2005

literary crushes

Slate profiles the books famous people loved in college. Daphne Merkin covers one of mine:

The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy. I read it for a class taught by Catherine Stimpson in my senior year at Barnard, and if I were grateful to her for nothing else, I would be grateful to her for introducing me to that novel. I was immediately riveted by its casual yet urgent style, as though there were a secret message running through the book that you would be able to detect only if you paid careful attention to what appeared to be its many inconclusive scenes and exchanges of throwaway dialogue. It remains for me an unutterably prescient book about so many things: the impact of celebrity on earthlings; the yearning for some kind of transcendental meaning in the midst of a secularly ordained universe; the possibility of romantic love even for the inveterately cynical (Binx); the limitations of romantic love, even for the nuttily hopeful (his cousin Kate); the temptations and arrogance of outsiderism; the pathos of emotional illness (Kate) and physical illness (Lonnie, Binx's half-brother).

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