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Demonology: Stories (Back Bay Books (Series)) Paperback – Bargain Price, April 10, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: Back Bay Books (Series)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (April 10, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316592102
  • ASIN: B0046LUI6K
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,757,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers 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 deathAshe 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) Forecast: Fans of Moody's novels and previous short story collection (The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven, 1995) will rush to flip through this uneven volume. Whether they will stick around to buy or to read all the way through remains to be seen, but the planned 9-city author tour will help.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I was born in NYC and raised in the CT suburbs. One of my grandfathers was a newspaper publisher and the other a small-town GM dealer. I figure this is a good lineage for a writer. I went to school in Rhode Island, where I worked with some really interesting people, like Angela Carter and John Hawkes. And then I got my MFA from Columbia University in NYC. After school I worked in book publishing in New York, during some lean times. My first novel came out in 1992. Since then, I've been writing mostly. I teach now and then. I got married in 2003, to my girlfriend of many years, Amy. She's working on her MA in decorative arts history. We split our time between Brooklyn and a little island off the coast of CT.

Customer Reviews

The problem is that Moody can't write.
Pros and Cons
Unfortunately for you, however, what comes next is a string of gimmicky, artsy stories wherein Moody writes a lot but says very little.
Amazon Customer
There are maybe people who will understand this stuff better than I, but this is still not a book I would recommend to anyone I know.
Red Pineapple

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gabriel Murray on June 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
Though endlessly influential from the get-go, Rick Moody's works have evolved considerably. If Purple America felt over-stylized to you, check out Demonology or his subsequent autobiography The Black Veil. They are especially powerful if read in that order. The title story of Demonology alone is worth the cost, and I can believe Moody's claim in an interview that after writing it he has been unable to re-read it. It is a very painful account of his sister's death, thinly veiled in fiction (thin to the point that the narrator comments on the story's autobiographical tint). The reviewers who argue that Moody changes tone too quickly and explicitly gives clues of impending disaster miss the point; the tragedy is a given. The beauty of his prose is in building up the context, prolonging what everyone knows or senses from foreshadowing and from the story's mood, until it reaches the point that he must resign himself to writing the conclusion. It is a beautiful method.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
The collection begins and ends with stories told by a male narrator addressing his dead sister (though the two pieces have nothing in common otherwise). "The Mansion on the Hill" is the story of an underachieving, slightly unbalanced guy who fails, catastrophically, at playing the avian mascot for a fast-food fried chicken joint. He lands a job at the Mansion on the Hill, a theme-room wedding venue that feels more like a funeral home, and slowly becomes enmeshed in the pathetic, lovelorn lives of his mostly dispirited coworkers; the climax of the story comes when he learns that his sister's former fiance is scheduled to be married at the Mansion on the Hill, less than a year after the sister's death. "Mansion" attempts to balance the fine line between comedy and tragedy, but the tone is uneven, and the desired effect is often unclear: was that supposed to be funny, or sad? In the end, it's merely pathetic, in all the various meanings of the word.
"Demonology," by contrast, feels much more intimate and personal, even autobiographical. It recounts the narrator's recollections of his sister in brief, unconnected snapshot scenes, which more or less center around Halloween and trick-or-treating (hence the candy), then jumps to a dispassionate description of her last moments; finally, the narrator addresses the sister, telling her how he feels in her absence despite (and because of) her inability to hear him. Though the narrator is the surviving sibling, he removes himself from the story, placing the focus squarely on his dead sister; it's a nice twist that she becomes present by her absence, alive in memory.
The finest pieces are those told in a fluid, stream-of-consciousness narrative, where the plot must be sifted out with careful attention to the flow of words.
Read more ›
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Despite a cool title and gorgeous cover, this book falls short once you open it up. The italics for one. They're the literary equivalent of someone whispering in your ear when you're trying to watch on a movie, they jolt you from your absorption and leave you unsure of what is going on.
Second, this collection is very uneven. A few stories are very good, several are passable, and many are downright infuriating to try and grasp the point of. I don't believe "literary fiction" has to wear its incomprehensibility and pretentiousness like a badge of honor, in order to garner admiration.
Thirdly, the characters have little to no depth, with the exception of a few narrators. We get their physical descriptions, what music they like, and where they shop, yet nothing about what they believe in, what they enjoy doing in their spare time, their political stands, etc. Brand names do not a multi-dimensional character make.
My recommendation: Skip it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "marcia3535" on October 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Moody's an unusual case. He's too smart and too talented to be considered a writer of popular schlock, but he's not smart enough or talented enough to be taken seriously as a literary writer. His work is easy to read and is an agreeable way to kill some time, but there's virtually no depth to what he writes, and in this book in particular there's a lot of sloppy writing. This book would have benefited from the handiwork of a caring editor. Moody is an obvious example of a writer spreading himself way too thin. He continues to write in the manner of an up-and-coming writer in his early twenties--there's no sign of maturing in his work. This book is pretty much for his fans; it's not likely to convert anyone.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I defy anybody out there to claim that they have no demons. The trick is bringing them out in the light. Nobody does this better in modern fiction than Mr. Moody. Passages turn from horrifying to hilarious in three words - and back again in the next three. How many books have you ever read that could make you laugh uncontrolably and then cry in the same way? For twenty bucks you can buy a mirror for your soul - hold it up, find the demons that scare you, the ones you have fun with; choreograph a dance with them and then tuck them into bed. Tuck yourself in too, but don't count on sleeping - this book will make you keep reading. I loved it.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Rick Moody is a major talent, so major that placing him in the context of other contemporary writers is difficult at best. Moody is Moody and he is either your cup of tea or he's not. His style of writing is kaleidoscopic. In this volume of thirteen short stories we are treated to a taste of what makes him so diverse, so fine a taleteller. From his complexly mesmerizing, rambling story in "Mansion on the Hill" to the terse three page "Drawer" to the hilarious take on a chronic loser in "The Double Zero", Moody's style pushes us along into places we'd sometime rather not go were it not for the brouhaha of the sales pitch of the author. I found some of the stories mannered, some a touch labored by writing gimmicks (must we be warned that evil or tragedy lurks behind the next page?. But this guy knows people and the bizarre American Gothic twisted humor that underlies much of our relationships. He tackles social issues, moral issues, foibles, stodgy thinking and just about every method of fantasy/memory that we use to button our past......and he makes it all interesting, even while we are embarassed to admit that we relate to his characters. This collection is yet further proof that Rick Moody is a force to contend with in contemporary American literature. Try it!
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