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Demonology: Stories

Demonology: Stories by Rick Moody
42 reviews (2001) (320p) Best Books

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Book Description
In paperback at last: the exuberantly praised collection of short fictionwelcomed on the cover of The New York Times Book Reviewthat has firmly established Rick Moody as one of the leading literary voices of his generation. A San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times bestseller. All four of Rick Moodys previous books will be simultaneously reissued as Back Bay trade paperbacks with a fresh, uniform look (see page 31). Rick Moodys new hardcover, a memoir entitled The Black Veil, will be published in May 2002 (see page 14)and will no doubt receive major review attention. He has received the Paris Reviews Aga Khan Prize, the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Review
Rick Moody is a traditionalist. Despite his page-long paragraphs, brand-name dropping, obsessive cataloguing of workplace ritual, seemingly random italicizing, and inevitable digs at "multinational entertainment providers," Moody makes classically beautiful short stories. His tools are those of any master storyteller: detail, catharsis, the right word at the right moment. Granted, the details can be unexpected: e.g., comparative values of different Pez dispensers. And his brand of catharsis can be mighty abrupt. "Now the intolerable part of this story begins," he warns us in the title story of Demonology, while "Hawaiian Night" includes the ominous spoiler, "Here comes tragedy." Yet his word choice is always immaculate.

Moody's collection is framed by two stories in which the narrator ruminates over his dead sister. In the first, "The Mansion on the Hill," he speaks directly to the departed:

You were a fine sister, but you changed your mind all the time, and I had no idea if these things I'd attributed to you in the last year were features of the you I once knew, or whether, in death, you had become the property of your mourners, so that we made of you a puppet.
The story promptly turns into a revenge fantasy, with an absurd climax wherein the narrator attacks his sister's former fiancé. "Demonology" deals with the actual circumstances of her death. First we see her tucking the kids into bed prior to her fatal seizure: "And my sister kissed her daughter multiply, because my niece is a little impish redhead, and it's hard not to kiss her." Moody then switches tone smoothly and beautifully as the medics work on the dead woman: "Her body jumped while they shocked her--she was a revenant in some corridor of simultaneities--but her heart wouldn't start." A writer who pins down such fluidities can get up to all the experimentation he likes. We'll go along willingly. --Claire Dederer

Rick Moody Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 0  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 0  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award


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