The Four Fingers of Death: A Novel

The Four Fingers of Death: A Novel

2.3 10
by Rick Moody
     
 

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Montese Crandall is a downtrodden writer whose rare collection of baseball cards won't sustain him, financially or emotionally, through the grave illness of his wife. Luckily, he swindles himself a job churning out a novelization of the 2025 remake of a 1963 horror film, The Crawling Hand. Crandall tells therein of the United States, in a bid to regain

Overview

Montese Crandall is a downtrodden writer whose rare collection of baseball cards won't sustain him, financially or emotionally, through the grave illness of his wife. Luckily, he swindles himself a job churning out a novelization of the 2025 remake of a 1963 horror film, The Crawling Hand. Crandall tells therein of the United States, in a bid to regain global eminence, launching at last its doomed manned mission to Mars. Three space pods with nine Americans on board travel three months, expecting to spend three years as the planet's first colonists. When a secret mission to retrieve a flesh-eating bacterium for use in bio-warfare is uncovered, mayhem ensues.

Only a lonely human arm (missing its middle finger) returns to earth, crash-landing in the Arizona desert. The arm may hold the secret to reanimation or it may simply be an infectious killing machine. It's crawl through the heartbroken wasteland of civilization is recorded in this stunningly inventive, sometimes hilarious, monumental novel.

Editorial Reviews

Bloomberg
"Comic, grim, tender and masterful."
Associated Press Staff
"As pulpy... as The Four Fingers of Death might sound, it's oddly something sweeter and more profound."
Clancy Martin - The New York Times Book Review
"Moody's powers of invention, his ease in his own prose, his ability to develop interesting characters--in short, his enormous gifts as a writer--are on full display here. And when he wants to write a gorgeous paragraph, he delivers as you know he can, even when he's still spoofing."
James Gibbons - BookForum
"[A] comic tour de force...Moody is at his most daring and arresting."
The Dallas Morning News
"A grab bag of sardonic fun."
John Domini - Bookslut
"Moody's foremost accomplishment....Moves with unapologetic swagger, as it flaunts the extremes of storytelling."
"Very Short List
"Sci-fi as only Moody could write it--in turns touching and outrageous."
From the Publisher
"[A] comic tour de force...Moody is at his most daring and arresting."—James Gibbons, BookForum"

Moody's powers of invention, his ease in his own prose, his ability to develop interesting characters—in short, his enormous gifts as a writer—are on full display here. And when he wants to write a gorgeous paragraph, he delivers as you know he can, even when he's still spoofing."—Clancy Martin, The New York Times Book Review"

A grab bag of sardonic fun."—The Dallas Morning News"

Moody's foremost accomplishment....Moves with unapologetic swagger, as it flaunts the extremes of storytelling."—John Domini, Bookslut"

As pulpy... as The Four Fingers of Death might sound, it's oddly something sweeter and more profound."—Associated Press"

Comic, grim, tender and masterful."—Bloomberg"

Sci-fi as only Moody could write it—in turns touching and outrageous."—"Very Short List," The Observer"

700-plus pages of wacky, wonderful imaginings."—More "

Entertaining and often poignant."—The New Yorker

More
"700-plus pages of wacky, wonderful imaginings."
The New Yorker
"Entertaining and often poignant."
James Gibbons
[A] comic tour de force...Moody is at his most daring and arresting.
BookForum
Clancy Martin
Moody's powers of invention, his ease in his own prose, his ability to develop interesting characters—in short, his enormous gifts as a writer—are on full display here. And when he wants to write a gorgeous paragraph, he delivers as you know he can, even when he's still spoofing.
The New York Times Book Review
John Domini
Moody's foremost accomplishment....Moves with unapologetic swagger, as it flaunts the extremes of storytelling.
Bookslut
Jane Ciabattari - NPR.com
"In his dense, provocative and often hilarious ninth book, Rick Moody takes a sly, Swiftian approach to sci-fi, serving up a goofy B-movie-style opera.... His energy and sheer inventiveness make The Four Fingers of Death an original and exhilarating read."
Messinger Jonathan - Time Out Chicago
"There's loads of political parody...but we think Moody's up to something a little more sophisticated....The bulk of the novel acts as a metaphor for Crandall's everyman issues of fear of losing his wife, and insignificance in an economy that's moved on from his skill set. Sure, 700 pages is a long metaphor, but it's sharp and funny enough to make it worthwhile on both levels."
Salter Reynolds - Los Angeles Times
"This is Moody uncorked, slyly going back to the wordy, toothsome, 19th century novel, with a science-fiction twist."
Charlie Jane Anders - i09.com
"Like Vonnegut, Moody packs his novel with weird New Age pseudo-cults, odd philosophies, bizarre science experiments and one-off characters who chatter at you for a dozen pages before getting strangled by a severed arm with four fingers."
Elissa Schappell - Vanity Fair
"In The Four Fingers of Death, Rick Moody's rollicking shaggy-dog novel (a mixed breed of science fiction and satire), a sorry writer bangs out the novelization of a campy 60s horror film, while a severed human arm, the sole survivor of an ill-starred mission to Mars, creeps across the desert."
Holly Silva - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"The novel is peppered with gems such as, "there were no authorities any longer, just men with nicer outfits," which explains with breathtaking economy a crumbling society in 2025. The story's cumulative verdict is that of a scary B-movie: The end is near. Because of the times we live in, the message is convincing and sobering. Moody has tapped into the fear that America has lost its way, and his...approach is brilliant."
Doug Childers - Richmond Times-Dispatch
"For readers who enjoy rambling, picaresque adventures with a satiric edge (think: Thomas Pynchon), it's...a blast."
Chad Roedemeier
As pulpy and trashy as The Four Fingers of Death might sound, it's oddly something sweeter and more profound. It's a book about love and longing husbands grieving over dying wives, disconnected parents and lost children, sadness and confusion. Consider just this one gorgeous line: "Love was the hole as well as the thing that repaired the hole." It's sad, pitch-perfect and lovely, and it came from the talking chimp who has fallen in love with a human laboratory assistant.... The near future in The Four Fingers of Death has plenty gone wrong, but it reads more like the satiric comedy of David Foster Wallace's maximalist novel, Infinite Jest. Both are long, packed with elaborately inventive plotlines, digressions, explanations and multiple characters. The future's a mess, but there's plenty to say about it.
Associated Press
Michael H. Miller
Mr. Moody's best writing in years. It is The Ice Storm in space....masterful, certainly matching, even at times surpassing, Kurt Vonnegut, to whom The Four Fingers of Death is dedicated, and who is the book's closest progenitor.... It is fun to read.
The New York Observer
Jane Ciabattari
In his dense, provocative and often hilarious ninth book, Rick Moody takes a sly, Swiftian approach to sci-fi, serving up a goofy B-movie-style opera.... His energy and sheer inventiveness make The Four Fingers of Death an original and exhilarating read.
NPR.com
New York Metro
"Densely bizarre and endlessly playful."
Charlie Jane Anders
Like Vonnegut, Moody packs his novel with weird New Age pseudo-cults, odd philosophies, bizarre science experiments and one-off characters who chatter at you for a dozen pages before getting strangled by a severed arm with four fingers.
i09.com
Jeffrey Burke
Comic, grim, tender and masterful....It's a sly science-fiction tale loosely sprung from the 1963 horror film The Crawling Hand.... The voyage and time on the Red Planet, 15 years from now, make for a suspenseful, sometime harrowing tale.... After the tension of outer space, Moody delivers a broadly satirical release on Earth.... He runs delightful riffs on, among other things, duct tape, jet packs, the stars over the desert and the ever-changing occupants of a campus house that eventually takes in the founder of an alternative-lifestyle group called omnium gatherum.... Highlight[s] Moody's gift for being as thoughtful as he is entertaining.
Bloomberg
Max Read
We would have waited another five years for this book, at once not your typical Moody (it's fun, for starters) and total hallmark Moody (think The Ice Storm on a molecular level).
Time Out New York
Messinger Jonathan
There's loads of political parody...but we think Moody's up to something a little more sophisticated....The bulk of the novel acts as a metaphor for Crandall's everyman issues of fear of losing his wife, and insignificance in an economy that's moved on from his skill set. Sure, 700 pages is a long metaphor, but it's sharp and funny enough to make it worthwhile on both levels.
Time Out Chicago
Michael H. Miller - The New York Observer
"Mr. Moody's best writing in years. It is The Ice Storm in space....masterful, certainly matching, even at times surpassing, Kurt Vonnegut, to whom The Four Fingers of Death is dedicated, and who is the book's closest progenitor.... It is fun to read."
Max Read - Time Out New York
"We would have waited another five years for this book, at once not your typical Moody (it's fun, for starters) and total hallmark Moody (think The Ice Storm on a molecular level)."
Salter Reynolds
This is Moody uncorked, slyly going back to the wordy, toothsome, 19th century novel, with a science-fiction twist.
Los Angeles Times
Doug Childers
For readers who enjoy rambling, picaresque adventures with a satiric edge (think: Thomas Pynchon), it's...a blast.
Richmond Times-Dispatch
San Antonio Express-News
"Set in an America even bleaker than the '70s of The Ice Storm Moody's latest is a comic sci-fi epic....His tale is filled with digressions that reveal a sad future we may soon inherit."
Holly Silva
The novel is peppered with gems such as, "there were no authorities any longer, just men with nicer outfits," which explains with breathtaking economy a crumbling society in 2025. The story's cumulative verdict is that of a scary B-movie: The end is near. Because of the times we live in, the message is convincing and sobering. Moody has tapped into the fear that America has lost its way, and his...approach is brilliant.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
More Magazine
"Wacky, wonderful imaginings."
Henry L. Carrigan
Combines Kurt Vonnegut's masterly black humor with the apocalyptic scenery of B-movies and the postmodern playfulness of Neal Stephenson.
Library Journal
Elissa Schappell
In The Four Fingers of Death, Rick Moody's rollicking shaggy-dog novel (a mixed breed of science fiction and satire), a sorry writer bangs out the novelization of a campy 60s horror film, while a severed human arm, the sole survivor of an ill-starred mission to Mars, creeps across the desert.
Vanity Fair

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316118934
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
07/13/2011
Pages:
725
Sales rank:
1,101,209
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.70(d)

Meet the Author

THE FOUR FINGERS OF DEATH is Rick Moody's ninth book. He has received the PEN/Martha Albrand Award, the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Paris Review's Aga Khan Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, NY.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, NY
Date of Birth:
October 18, 1961
Education:
B.A., Brown University, 1983; M.F.A., Columbia University, 1986

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The Four Fingers of Death 2.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
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grumpydan More than 1 year ago
The Four Fingers of Death is a lengthy book. It actually is three stories in one. The first which begins and ends the book is about Montese Crandall who in the near future has one the right to write the novelization of the sci-fi classic "The Crawling Hand". (Okay, they think it is a classic in the year 2025). And we find out the importance of why he needs to write this book. The rest of the book is the story he supposedly wrote. It is split into two sections - Book one explains the Mars voyage and which I enjoyed as it was detailed and stimulating. Classic science fiction. Book Two is the story of the return to earth where only a human arm has crashed landed and may be infected and cause the destruction of human kind. This part was humorous horror to say the least, but didn't grab me as much as the first book. With over 700 pages it took me awhile to get through this one.
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PvtTaylor More than 1 year ago
This book has absolutely no good qualities. The only thing positive that can be said is that it is a cure for insomnia. The jacket notes compare it to "Slaughterhouse-Five". Moody is no Kurt Vonnegut! If you must have a copy, you can find mine in the city dump. Tomorrow is garbage day.