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The Ice Storm: A Novel Paperback – April 10, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Exhaustive detailing of early 1970s popular/consumer culture in suburban New England provides the context for this archetypal tale of the American nuclear family in decline. The affluent WASP community of New Canaan, Conn., is home to the Hood and Williams families, neighboring two-parent, two-child households built around increasingly dysfunctional marriages. Benjamin Hood, plagued by a loss of importance at work and a growing drinking problem, pursues an ill-fated affair with Janey Williams; his wife, Elena, feels herself losing what little regard she has left for him. Meanwhile, the adolescent children of both families experiment with sex, alcohol and drugs to find identities and to overcome a ponderous sense of alienation. A neighborhood "key party," at which couples exchange mates by drawing keys out of a bowl, brings the action to a chaotic climax as an apocalyptic winter storm culminates in physical tragedy to match the emotional damage in the small community. Pop-cultural references of the time, from Hush Puppies to the film Billy Jack , pervade the text. Unfortunately, Moody, winner of the Pushcart Press Editors' Book Award for his first novel, Garden State , tends to use these details in a more encyclopedic than evocative manner. His depiction of these families, however, is insightful and convincing, penetrating the thoughts and fears of each individual. And the central tragedy of his tale remains resonant, though his decrying of our cultural wasteland seems a bit stale.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Moody's first novel, Garden State, won the Pushcart Press Editors' Book Award in 1991. Now he takes readers back to a very Updikean version of the 1970s: upper-middle-class discontents expressed through fumbling adventures on the sexual frontier. Benjamin Hood and his wife, Elena, barely communicate, but their neighbors, the Williams, provide diversions for them, both in fantasy and reality. Simultaneously, the couples' children, young adults all, meet and play sexual games of their own. Moody can turn a phrase--"The past was so past it hurt"--and his description of what happens when hungover Benjamin Hood carries Mike Williams home is truly unforgettable. The theme of sexual adventure in the split-level suburbs, however, has lost a bit of its freshness. Moody is a talented writer in search of better material. Marginally recommended. Eloise Kinney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Back Bay Books (Series)
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (April 10, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316706000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316706001
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In the late fall of 1973 I was a twenty-nine-year-old librarian in Dallas, cheering on the downfall of Richard Nixon and learning to write book reviews. As Moody says, it was a very, very different time -- so different I doubt anyone under thirty-five can even imagine it. No call waiting, no cable TV, no AIDS or HIV, no laser printers, no CDs, no Reagan Revolution. The names Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin still meant something. We knew who Rose Mary Woods was, too. But still, New Canaan, Connecticut, was a very different place from north Texas. That fall, Benjamin Hood and his wife, Elena, took the final step toward the break-up of their shaky, unhappy marriage. Wendy Hood, age fourteen, was becoming known as a slut, though she wasn't a bad kid and it wasn't entirely her fault. Her brother, Paul, wasn't having much fun as a seventeen-year-old preppie, either. It was the year the key party came to the upscale suburbs. None of the characters in this painful-to-read novel are particularly likable. You might feel sorry for them, at least some of the time, but you wouldn't particularly want to spend time with any of them, or at least I wouldn't. But Moody keeps you reading, wondering how they're going to screw themselves up next. Making an engrossing story out of unpleasant people and distasteful situations isn't easy, but he manages it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By rvrinsea on March 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Ice Storm: A Novel

Rick Moody's novel, The Ice Storm, offers a wonderful trip through the emotional landscape of affluent New Canaan, Connecticut circa November 1973. New Canaan was, and still is, one of the bedroom communities surrounding New York City. And like the other communities in the area, New Canaan is somewhat unique in America due to a combination of its tremendous, anonymous affluence created by the New York financial district, and an exceptionally disjointed lifestyle due to the long hours worked in the City and the daily 90 minute commutes from home to the train station via car, a train ride into the city and eventually a cab, or subway ride, into the financial district with the process reversing itself in the evening.

I did not grow up in New Canaan, but during this time period I lived relatively close by and visited frequently. I am also the same age as one of the book's protagonists. Based on my personal experience, Moody's novel does a stunningly good job of capturing this time and place. All too sadly, I remember many incidents from this period that are eerily similar to the fictional events that occur in the book. (Apparently I am not alone in appreciating the verisimilitude of the book, I was attending my prep school reunion in 2006 about 100 miles away from New Canaan, when a classmate stated out of the blue, I was from Darien, [a town near New Canaan], if you want to understand what my life was like before I left for school, read The Ice Storm.)

The book is centered upon the dissolving family nucleus of the Hood family, Benjamin & Elena Hood and their two teenage children, Paul and Wendy.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By on March 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
The Ice Storm is one of the best books i have ever read. It works on a lot of different levels. The characters AREN'T fully developed, in the conventional sense, but that is delibrate. In fact, it's where a lot of the book's power comes from: no one i know is "fully developed" either. Is the book too cold? Look at the title. Moody writes about something clearly personal to him, but avoids becoming overly sentimental. The Ice Storm requires and rewards close reading.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 29, 1997
Format: Paperback
There is no other book that explains what's like growing up in the 70s better than THE ICE STORM. A very beautiful and delicate family drama. Yes, it's very cold but that's the point the author wants to emphasize. Most folks complain that the characters are not fully developed - its not a flaw at all. Its simply because the characters dont know themselves - they're confused and lost in a chilly world. Very distant also. We're not supposed to feel any warmth or comfortable.Moody wants us to feel distant with the characters - dont forget the progantist is the oldest son Paul whos totally lost and frozen. We see his family through his eyes.Reading the book is like visiting my childhood again. My parents spent too much time partying and tyring to keep up with the sexual revolution. It does have a devastating price - my father died of alcoholism last Christmas and I don't talk to my mom and sister anymore. For a very long time, my family forgot how to huddle even in the most difficult time. And th book rings very true for me and many other young folks. Moody is also a genius with words and his writing is very beautiful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAME on February 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Rick Moody has written a masterpiece; a brilliant overview of a dysfunctional surburban family during the early 1970's. He does as fine a job as Tom Wolfe did in "Bonfire of the Vanities" in recording a certain moment in American history. His reliance on 1970's trivia, criticized by other customers, is important as the means through which he sets the stage for his fictitious family and their actions during the course of the ice storm. I can't think of another writer who has so aptly captured the domestic horrors of surburbia. In my list of great American novels from the 1980's and 1990's, "The Ice Storm" shares top billing with Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities", Mark Helprin's "A Winter's Tale", E. L. Doctorow's "Ragtime" and William Gibson's "Neuromancer". Without a doubt, Rick Moody is one of the most unique, distinctive voices of my generation; I feel privileged having been a fellow classmate of his in a college writing seminar many years ago.
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