When he was wounded in the Korean War, Binx Bolling saw a dung beetle, magnified in his consciousness. Normally, it would either have overlooked it or dismissed it. Lying on the battlefield, bleeding, and, for all he knows, dying, the insect takes on what Binx calls "presence"; it becomes something, rather than a thing among things and, therefore, a nothing. This chance event gives Binx the idea of undertaking what he calls "the search." In an world of superficial conduct and meaningless commerce, Binx, alienated from his friends and family, searches for God. His search is not easy, since culture no longer provides any idea of a God that is worth considering, let alone worshiping. However, Binx undertakes his search and, at the end of the novel, facing the terrible death of a family member, Binx suddenly comes to believe in God. The novel, which won the National Book Award, offers an existential view of God, faith, and life, giving concrete expression to the philosophical views of Soren Kierkegaard and Jean Paul Sartre. It's challenging, but very rewarding, reading.
This report prepared by Gary Pullman