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The Diviners Paperback – Bargain Price, January 2, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Let it be said that Moody never suffered for want of ambition. Ostensibly about the exploits of Vanessa "Minivan" Meandro;an overweight, pathologically cruel film-and-television producer, and her attempts to produce a 13-part miniseries about diviners;Moody's latest tome follows the tangentially connected stories of at least a dozen characters around the time of the 2000 election recount. Vanessa has no idea who authored the treatment or the novel the miniseries is supposedly based on; her accountant absconds with her production company's funds; her mother suffers delusions brought on by nonstop drinking. Meanwhile, a second-rate action film star is making demands, a television executive has a perversion for young, handicapped girls and a bike messenger may have murdered the gallery curator who touted his art as genius. The point: if Hollywood is a vision factory, these are its false diviners. They are all very well drawn (and the list goes on). But there's more: the portentous first chapter (which indulges in 11 pages of inert descriptions of the sun rising at every point across the globe), the book's end-of-Clinton-era setting and its relentless dissection of L.A.'s capitalist fantasy mentality reach toward summative critique of an era à la The Corrections. But Moody ends up having more to say about narcissism in its infinite vicissitudes than he does about its effects. Major ad/promo. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

Moody's latest novel revolves around a proposed mini-series epic that follows generations of a tribe of diviners, from the conquests of the Mongols to the founding of Las Vegas. Unbeknown to the agents and studio executives scrambling for the rights, there's no script, only a synopsis concocted by an office assistant and her lover, a married action-movie star. Meanwhile, a producer's aging alcoholic mother disappears; an accountant embezzles thousands of dollars and goes on the lam; and a schizophrenic bike messenger is falsely accused of attempted murder. Moody's kinetic prose calls to mind Bruce Wagner's kaleidoscopic Hollywood novels, but it lacks Wagner's acerbity and airy humor. One major riff concerns a popular television show about a community of werewolves (and involves a wearisome recounting of camera angles). Moody's novel, like the high-production-value shows it refers to, has an earnest sententiousness that overshadows its well-crafted fluency.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (January 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316013277
  • ASIN: B0041T4PBQ
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,730,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Sirin on March 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
But nobody's home.

The Diviners is a monumental, 567 page epic that reaches its clutches far and wide to capture as much about end of Clinton era society as possible. Evidently this is Moody's attempt to write the great social novel along the lines of Franzen's 'Corrections' or Delillo's 'Underworld', both blockbuster successes.

Some problems, however:

The novel starts off with a chapter devoted entirely to a huge, all encompassing scan shot that tracks the sunrise around the world: 'The light that illuminates the world begins in Los Angeles. Begins in darkness, begins in the mountains, begins in empty landscapes, in doubt and remorse.' Huh? Light begins in doubt and remorse? Explain please, but we hear no further about the metaphysical implications of this, for we are thrust in the next sentence in the 'city of shadows' where there are hints of human insignificance and nightmares. No more about these as the next sentence brings in an eruption of spectra.

The attempt is clearly meant to dazzle, to show off Moody's linguistic virtuosity. But I found that this the effect of this vast chapter, which tracks the light around the world, guzzling up whole regional histories: 'Light upon the Nanjing Road, traveling westerly, on buildings of British design, light on the four-story French additions to the neighbourhood,' was to exhaust, rather than invigorate.

This throw everything into the mix and see what happens style continues throughout the book. It very loosely centres around Vanessa Meandro, Krispy Kreme addict and megalomaniac and the miniseries 'The Diviners' which runs from ancient Mongolia to present day Utah.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Readersomething on January 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'd never read Rick Moody before (very bad of me, I know), but hearing a radio interview with the author piqued my interest and I picked up The Diviners. So I was rather unprepared for the stylistic whirlwind within. Reading Moody is like embarking on what you think is going to be a straightforward bit of Google fact-checking and 45 minutes later you end up reading about echidnas and Paris Hilton and having no idea how you got there.

Several chapters in, however, I began to feel messed with, like a vein of contempt for the reader runs through this work. Watch me! Watch me swoop and dive and tug your emotions and expose your 21st-century wired mind, irrevocably changed in ways you weren't even aware of by the Internet and 24-hour 100-channel TV and cell phones and Ipods and Blackberries.

Then I just felt bored. So many chapters. So many word logjams per chapter. So much the same.

Then I began to get worried for Mr. Moody. I picked up his memoir The Black Veil and found some of his runaway thought patterns, word patterns, as symptomatic of his mental illness. I picked up Garden State, and found in this early work a more-or-less straightforward, conventional narrative.

So I can't quite make up my mind about The Diviners. Is Moody a big enough seller now that he feels he can throw off convention and write however the hell he wants to write and do this show-offy postmodern stylistic acrobatics thing that makes the reader work, yet rewards her with a thrill ride, or are his brilliant, layered ramblings the evidence of an unquiet mind?

Perhaps the more learned can enlighten me. I sort of spaced out during those literary theory lectures in college. But as a reader, I say check out The Diviners for the fireworks, but have your guard up and don't expect to fall in love.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Margie on January 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The best thing about any Rick Moody novel is you never know what's going to happen next. He's a brilliant and talented writer. The language he uses is not dense, but vividly descriptive, one of the few authors to really care about how he words his adventures and characters. As for his storytelling - it is unpredictable and something different than boring, generic, typical novels like what's being published everyday. He's creative, funny as hell, and constantly pushing the envelope. Either you hate him or love him, but you do know him. This novel was no disappointment to me. I found myself laughing out loud during the funniest moments - as I've done with certain parts in all his other novels.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on December 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Rick Moody can certainly pen a well-crafted sentence, and his latest novel, The Diviners, is full of these lines, some almost breathtaking. The first chapter itself is a fine example of Moody's talent for stretching a single idea, in this case a sunrise, across pages in prose so deftly written they read like poetry. But the beauty is easily overlooked by the reader who simply wants Moody to get to the point already, and those unfamiliar with Moody's work will think this repeatedly.

The Diviners depicts a brief period in the lives of several desperate characters and their antics just after the 2000 election and just before said election is called for Bush. The central action is the development of an epic miniseries for Vanessa Meandro's Means of Production. Vanessa is a doughnut-popping, nightmarish boss with an alcoholic mother. She keeps her company going with the help of action-film star Thaddeus Griffin, who has managed to seduce Vanessa's employees and has a penchant for masochism. Moody divides the book into character sketches that sometimes advance the plot and other times give him the opportunity to wax poetic for pages about inanimate objects.

There is no denying, however, that the characters are deftly drawn despite their diversity. Among others, Moody has created Annabel, a young black woman with a mentally ill genius of a brother accused of attempted murder; and a screenplay on the Marquis de Sade, where Samantha, the victim, is an Asian-American art dealer left with memory loss after a coma; and Jaspreet, the developmentally disabled son of a Sikh cab-driver-turned-television-expert.
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