The Ice Storm by Rick Moody

Feb 27, 2010

The Ice Storm, by Rick MoodyFive things I hate about Rick Moody:

1. His writerly tone can be absolutely obnoxious. I mean overbearing, arrogant, snotty, condescending, downright rude to the reader.

2. His world view is bleaker than mine, which makes me jealous.

3. Some of his characters are so repulsive that I wonder why I care about them ... and then I keep caring about them.

4. He was smarmily self-important in the interview he did for the Criterion Collection's version of the film adaptation of The Ice Storm.

5. He uses words like "redacted" (or maybe it's "reductivist" I'm remembering) with such obvious relish that I almost want to smack him.

And despite all that, I'm still a fan of Rick Moody -- because he's such a surgically precise writer that you have to admire the guy even when he's making you squirm. I saw Ang Lee's film version of The Ice Storm before I read the book, and as always when I watch a movie before reading the source material, I regret it. Books nearly always are more detailed, richer in background information, deeper in their construction and overtones of meaning. (One exception I can think of: Director David Fincher's film version of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club.)

I do recommend reading The Ice Storm if all you're familiar with is the film version, but beware: This is a harrowing, sometimes even horrifying read. The characters in the movie -- from hopelessly clueless 1970s dad Benjamin Hood to his hopelessly hungry-for-love daughter Wendy Hood, and so on -- are much more likable than the characters in Moody's pages. But the point of book and film largely is the same: That the liberating years of the 1960s led inexorably to the personal excesses of the 1970s. The families in Moody's book are damaged, tormented, dysfunctional; they try and fail to communicate. They pursue their own twisted dreams at the expense of others. They seek happiness and connection but often end up finding only more loneliness and grief.

In short, they're human. And Moody's moody brilliance at rendering them is undeniable. The Ice Storm: Highly recommended -- if you dare.

Reviewed by Library Staff