Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Oldies but goodies

Two books that I read earlier this spring are some older gems from William Maxwell and Walker Percy. I read Maxwell's The Chateau (1961) which is set in post WWII France. It's a long, graceful novel, very simply about an American couple traveling in France--some of the relationships they make, their observations on the country, and the differences in culture. If you're looking for action or mystery or some other splashy plot point, it isn't really for you. But for beautiful writing and being drawn into a past world, it's wonderful.

The Moviegoer (1961) won the National Book Award, and it is a very engaging story of a young man trying to find meaning in his life. A somewhat scarred young veteran of the Korean War, he finds escape and--sometimes--answers to life's questions at the movies. There's a funny scene of him quietly stalking William Holden in the New Orleans streets. One of the other snarky little bits is his mocking "This I believe," which I had never heard of until reading this novel. Then all of a sudden, NPR is relaunching it. So now, I always think of Binx when I hear it--thankfully erasing all traces of the intended earnestness of the commentaries.

Odd, that I chose these books randomly and they were published in the same year by almost exact contemporaries.

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