Demonology: Stories

Demonology: Stories

4.5 6
by Rick Moody

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Rick Moody's novels have earned him a reputation as a "breathtaking" writer (The New York Times) and "a writer of immense gifts" (The San Francisco Examiner). His remarkable short stories have led both the New Yorker and Harpers to single him out as one of the most original and admired voices in a generation.
These stories are abundant proof of Rick Moody's

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Rick Moody's novels have earned him a reputation as a "breathtaking" writer (The New York Times) and "a writer of immense gifts" (The San Francisco Examiner). His remarkable short stories have led both the New Yorker and Harpers to single him out as one of the most original and admired voices in a generation.
These stories are abundant proof of Rick Moody's grace as a stylist and a shaper of interior lives. He writes with equal force about the blithe energies of youth ("Boys") and the rueful onset of middle age ("Hawaiian Night"), about Midwestern optimists ("Double Zero") and West coast strategists ("Baggage Carousel"), about visionary exhilaration ("Forecast from the Retail Desk") and delusional catharsis ("Surplus Value Books: Catalog Number 13.") The astounding title story, which has already been reprinted in four different anthologies, is a masterpiece of remembrance and thwarted love.
Full of deep feeling and stunningly beautiful language, the stories in Demonology offer the deepest pleasures that fiction can afford.

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Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
Among the swirl of ethnic weddings at a marriage mill in Connecticut, grief-stricken employee Andrew Wakefield plans an evil revenge against his dead sister's fiancé that involves a chicken mask and human ashes. Andrew, the central character in "The Mansion on the Hill," is just one of the many offbeat and troubled characters who populate Demonology, the second short story collection by Rick Moody, the author of the acclaimed novels The Ice Storm and Purple America. In this brilliant, satirical collection framed by the deaths of two sisters, Moody uses his acerbic wit and perceptive eye to address our futile attempts to find meaning and catharsis in our suffering.

Moody's stories navigate long, winding roads over which the author capably propels his readers toward certain intended epiphanies. In "The Carnival Tradition," he plays with the chronology of two aspiring bohemians in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1985, then brings them back to when they met as teenagers ten years earlier on Halloween. What begins as a send-up of scrambling and pretentious artists evolves into a comedy of manners about rich and awkward adolescents, finally becoming a devastating meditation on the loss of love and the death of youthful dreams. The story's maimed protagonist is left alone and isolated.

Moody further displays his penchant for breaking short story conventions when he uses a newly discovered cassette collection to tell of the downward spiral of an upper-class ne'er-do-well. In "Wilkie Fahnstock: The Boxed Set," notes on the cassette tapes record the rock hits through the 1970s and '80s, as well as the young scion's inability to hold down jobs, stay out of drug rehab, stay in graduate programs, or to develop a meaningful life.

In "Surplus Value Books, Catalogue #13," Moody re-creates the book list of a mentally ill man selling his library. Each title he is selling refers in some way to his obsession with a female graduate student he will never kiss. As the list goes on, the increasing book values and outrageous liner notes become a vehicle for expression of the madman's hysteria.

In the title story, which ends the collection, Moody weaves a compelling ode to a sister who dies suddenly. With the orange flames of Halloween licking the edges of the story, Moody chronicles the sister's difficult but not entirely meaningless life while she takes her kids trick-or-treating. The grief of the narrator is unflinching.

Moody is on firmest ground in Demonology when he takes apart life in suburban America and examines the pieces with his biting humor. His mockeries of social conventions illuminate the raw human feelings of hurt and loneliness in his characters. Demonology proves once again that Moody is a master storyteller who weaves elaborate tales, bringing readers right where the writer wants us: looking into a mirror that reflects our naked emotions.

Dylan Foley is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, New York.

Janet Maslin
[Moody] animates this eccentric group of experiments with glimpses of a soulfulness behind the game-playing (the first story begins with the sight of a man in a chicken mask) and with a streak of gratifyingly acerbic wit.
New York Times
Chris Lehmann
Rick Moody's fiction...admirably evokes the grace concealed within petty routines, the forgiveness entwined around deep family recriminations and the generosity of spirit detectable within our facile and feeling-challenged age...
Washington Post
Washington Post
...admirably evokes the grace concealed within petty routines...and the generosity of spirit detectable within our facile and feeling-challenged age.
A writer of tremendous virtuosity...
Rocky Mountain News
...displays Moody's uncanny ability to perforate the surface of the seemingly ordinary lives of his characters. In doing so, he creates extraordinary work...
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Part of the charm of his fiction is his willingness to experiment, to play with life and language...
Boston Sunday Herald
...further scrutiny reveals [Moody's words] are also as wll-chosen as the syllables in a sonnet...
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Moody's sentences can go on for pages...fortunately, the scene at the top of the stairs is usually worth the climb...
Philadelphia City Paper
[Moody] writes eloquently and perceptively....
In such '90s novels as the much-lauded The Ice Storm and the even more ambitious Purple America, Moody explored a northeastern suburbia shaped by pharmaceutical numbness and post-punk rock. In his second collection of stories (The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven was the first), Moody is more concerned with narrative strategies, extending the possibilities of structure and voice. One story is like the liner notes to a box-set anthology, annotating a life through a selection of favorite records. Another is like an annotated catalog of rare books, examining what the fictional narrator calls "the pathology of book collectors" (while perhaps revealing more of that narrator's own pathology than he intends). Two other stories are each a single sentence long (one lasting two-and-a-half pages, the other sixteen). However uneven the results, the collection, which confounds the distinction between form and content, consistently challenges the reader to come to terms with what these stories mean. The best transcend literary gamesmanship, with both the opening "The Mansion on the Hill" and the closing title story dealing with a sister's death. The latter reads like autobiography (much in the manner of Lorrie Moore's "People Like That Are the Only People Here") and both ring devastatingly true.
—Don McLeese

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sending wry, heartbroken characters across the slightly tilted landscapes of his fiction, Moody fosters a low-grade bemusement in the 13 stories collected here. "The Mansion on the Hill," the first and perhaps the best, follows the adventures of narrator Andrew Wakefield as he tries to come to terms with his sister's death--she was killed in a car accident just before her wedding. Coincidentally finding himself employed at a ritzy wedding-planning business, Andrew alternates memories of the past with clunky product-speak descriptions of his job. The death of a sister is the theme of the title story, too, a tale Moody confesses at the end is hardly fictional at all, echoing in his fervent first-person declarations the nonfiction stylings of Dave Eggers. First published in McSweeney's, "The Double Zero," another of Moody's stories, describes the humorous failure of a family ostrich ranch. In "Carousel," an aging, low-level Hollywood actress muses on the metaphysics of the movie business and ends up stuck in the middle of a drive-by shooting while waiting at McDonald's to buy orange juice for her daughter ("So why are they here? According to what rationale? Do they even have juice at McDonald's?"). Moody's self-conscious prose strains for hyper-modern colloquial detachment, but too often misses its mark, clanging just off-key. (Jan. 25) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
A new collection from the author of The Ice Storm, the basis of the Ang Lee film, and prize winners like Garden State. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\

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Little, Brown and Company
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5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.87(d)

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Demonology 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I happened to pick this book up at my library by chance and it happened to be one of the best short story books I've read. I look forward in reading his other works.
harstan More than 1 year ago
This thirteen story anthology affirms the belief that author Rick Moody writes intricate tales that bares open the good, the bad, and the ugliness of the human soul. His current anthology, DEMONOLOGY, provides a look into the heart, especially the broken kind, of the suburbanite. The reader will feel they are lost in an endless cavern of emotions before Mr. Moody guides the audience out of the well.

This collection will please the author¿s fans (see THE ICE STORM) as the characters question why. All the stories are well written though a few seem stretched in terms of trying to send a message that at times is depressing and leaves an aftertaste of helplessness.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sometimes, in life, there is only the chicken mask, the luggage that makes all others obsolete, and the thoughts you would never share with yourself.