Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mixed reviews for Rick Moody’s new satirical novel The Four Fingers of Death

The Four Fingers of Death (Little Brown, July 2010), a new 725-page Vonnegutesque novel by award-winning author Rick Moody that features “a hard-luck writer in 2025, whose novelization of a remake of the 1963 horror cult classic, The Crawling Hand, spins a satirical tale of a returning Mars expedition,” has received mixed reviews over the past few weeks. Here’s a selective recap:

The New York Times: “It may be that Moody is intentionally turning [main character and author Montese] Crandall into a pathetic figure here by giving him bad jokes, or Moody may himself be straining for humor that doesn’t work. Unfortunately, either way, it’s no fun to read.”

The Globe and Mail: Moody’s “epic postmodern paean to schlocky old horror films kicks realism in the ass."

The Wall Street Journal: “If nothing else, The Four Fingers of Death provides further evidence for the inverse relationship between literary theory and literary quality. As a ‘project’ -- that's what the author calls the book in his acknowledgments -- it succeeds; as a novel, it's harebrained and largely unreadable.”

Bookslut: “Four Fingers seems admirable -- ‘novelicious,’ let’s say, to coin a term in keeping with the text’s ludic anarchy, the tickling it gives a form that’s so often been labeled as dying or dead.”

NPR: Moody’s “energy and sheer inventiveness make The Four Fingers of Death an original and exhilarating read.” Severed Thumbs Up.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Moody’s “new book, chockablock with the novelist's stylistic mastery, is a parody of science fiction with its dystopian pessimism and contemporary meta fiction with its personal obsessions. (Told you it was annoying.)” One finger short.

The Washington Post: “Any similarities between Vonnegut's work and Moody's novel are superficial. The best of Vonnegut's novels were lean and focused; he didn't need 700 pages to write Cat's Cradle or Slaughterhouse-Five.”

Both NPR and The Wall Street Journal have posted the introduction to The Four Fingers of Death.

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