The Moviegoer is one of those dangerous books that might just make you quit your job or marry your first cousin…
I enjoyed the terms he, Binx Bolling the protagonist, comes up with to describe how cinema has affected the world. The best by far is certification. This is the term when something one knows, a neighborhood perhaps, appears in a movie. It’s existence on the silver screen makes it certified, worthy of existence. This concept also comes up in his description of a couple meeting a celebrity. How seeing that person in real life add an authenticity to their life, even if that person is know for playing someone they are not.
Bix lives through the medium of cinema (I believe the book predated McLuhan). He sees the world becoming a vessel of experience in which people use the simulacrum as a measure of realness, and not the other way around.
The Moviegoer is a dangerous book, and I say that with experience. I just adore my first cousin. (j/k!) I love the fact that someone on the New York Times Magazine staff had that and Independence Day by Richard Ford on their list of favorite books (Carina Chocano would be a guess if she’s on staff, but probably not? Probably a dude, is my guess.) - I had read both books simultaneously, quite by accident, which was fun since the latter was quite plainly a Moviegoer re-write of sorts. The part of me that related to these two lost boy characters was very, very terrified and has made some major decisions as a result. Not completely, but these books were there in the background. Nobody ever wants to be “dreamy” as a character trait. It’s too vaporous.
And if you’ve ever done an interview in your life, Chapter 6 (or 7? I forget) of Independence Day basically nails what it’s like in a way that had me rolling on the floor. It’s really the takeaway of the book for me. The Moviegoer seems sadder and more creepily relevant, day after day after day. It actually may be a favorite book of mine. In about slot #18 or so, sad men in 50s America division.