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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-written, not-nice story
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...
Published on September 6, 2004 by Michael K. Smith

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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You Were There, Rick, We Believe You.
Like a drunken machine gunner, Rick Moody does hit a few targets in The Ice Storm, but there's a lot of icky Bazooka gum to be chewed before getting to the occasional wise insight. The novel's problems are few but each one is serious. First, the eager beaver desire to convince us that he remembers 1973 grates. At one point I counted 16 references in a row to pop...
Published on December 15, 1997 by mlarroca@mailhost.cccs.es


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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-written, not-nice story, September 6, 2004
This review is from: The Ice Storm (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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A novel about a strange time in a strange place, March 15, 2009
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This review is from: The Ice Storm: A Novel (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. Also profiled, albeit to a somewhat lesser extent, are the Hood's neighbors down the street, the Williams family, Jim & Janey, and their two sons, Sandy and Mike.

Aside from the human characters in the novel, there is another powerful, yet unspoken character in the novel, and that is the time and place of suburban Connecticut in 1973. In the establishment bastion of suburban Connecticut, where the social order is an essential part of the fabric of life, deep and profound turmoil is upsetting the status quo.

America had, for all intents and purposes, just been defeated in a war for the first time in its history, when the American forces unilaterally withdrew from Vietnam earlier in the year. Also for the first time in its history, American's were watching an American President being toppled by his own corrupt actions. The Watergate affair was a major story in the news, and Richard Nixon would resign in less than a year.

The status quo is crumbling as the anti-war movement winds down and relative tranquility returns to mid-1970's America. However, the social fabric and contract that have held the country together since the Depression in 1929 is crumbling. Single-parent families, the relevance of marriage, civil rights, women's rights, and gay rights are all entering the social consciousness. Entwined in this confusion are the late baby-boomers, now high-school age teenagers, and their parents who were born late in the Depression and during World War II, now both attempting to cope with the upheaval created by the early baby boomers who fueled the upheaval.

For the adults (Benjamin, Elena, Jim & Janey), who presumably married in their early twenties, and had predictable career paths mapped out, there is both frustration and envy with the younger anti-war adults who have both refused to follow the status quo, and who also seemed to be having a far greater degree of freedom in their lives. The adults in The Ice Storm are suffering mid-life crises, yet they have not even reached their mid-thirties. The adults engage in awkward experimentation with extramarital sex and drugs that is stunningly juvenile in both its awkwardness and the impetuousness with which their actions are under taken.

For the teenage children (Paul, Wendy, Sandy & Mike), not only must they cope with all of the usual pressures of adolescence, but an enormous set of expanded freedoms, with greatly liberated societal attitudes towards sex and drugs, and virtually no guidance or expectations as to how to manage these new freedoms. In addition, they suffer largely silently through the unexpected second adolescence of their parents. They are teenagers adrift to a far greater extent than is normally the case. They lack the societal focal point that defines both earlier and later generations, whether it be the Depression, World War II, the anti-war movement, or for later generations, the focus upon personal growth and consumption during the Reagan years and beyond. A level of ennui and detachment sets in among the teenagers, that is generally only seen after mass traumatic events such as war, which in some respects could be considered to be the theme of this work.

Literally and metaphorically, The Ice Storm is a book about missed connections: between husbands and wives, siblings, friends and ultimately generations. On a literal level, it is the last generation without an unending supply of consumer electronics to control movement and actions. In 1973, there were no cell phones, pagers, answering machines, computers, VCRs or even cordless phones, while the three networks and a smattering of independents were the sole providers of television entertainment. Seemingly time moves much more slowly and events happen far more randomly than is the case in contemporary society.

Moody, who would have been twelve at the time of the events he writes about in his novel, must have been an amazingly precocious child as his observations at every level are exceptionally astute. I have one minor criticism of the book, which is that some of the characters begin to engage in rather kinky sexuality that is more a product of the 1980's, and Mr. Moody's own generation, rather than that of the earlier generations in his book, where large doses of pre-marital and extramarital sex, in and of itself, was heady stuff in the 1970's.

In summary, if you are interested in peering into affluent American suburbia during the aftermath of the wild social upheaval of the 1960's, The Ice Storm is the next best thing to having lived it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best modern novels, March 10, 1998
This review is from: The Ice Storm (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A CONTEMPORARY CLASSIC, November 29, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Ice Storm (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A great American late 20th Century novel, February 5, 2001
This review is from: The Ice Storm (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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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You Were There, Rick, We Believe You., December 15, 1997
This review is from: The Ice Storm (Paperback)
Like a drunken machine gunner, Rick Moody does hit a few targets in The Ice Storm, but there's a lot of icky Bazooka gum to be chewed before getting to the occasional wise insight. The novel's problems are few but each one is serious. First, the eager beaver desire to convince us that he remembers 1973 grates. At one point I counted 16 references in a row to pop psychology books of the day. Evoking a certain era from the past has to be more than listing brand names and pop songs; Moody shows no sign of realizing this and though he scratches and scratches at the emotional surface of a meaningless marriage in a banal time, he can't draw blood...so he lists a few more things. Second, the novel's heart is cold; empathy takes a back seat to mockery, except where the children are concerned. Not coincidentally, the novel's strengths are found in its portrayal of the kids. Sadly, what was meant to be a tour de force slips on the ice and flops.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, May 25, 2004
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"michael_u" (Walnut Creek, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ice Storm: A Novel (Paperback)
I feel that while it's useful to compare novels to films, it's wrong to just say that one or the other is better. So my review will be simply based on what I thought of the novel.
I liked Moody's writing style, especially the straightforward depictions of topics that are often somewhat muted in literature, such as sex and drugs. Though some parts of it seemed slow and artificial, overall it presented an interesting picture of the life of a troubled family in the 70s. I think it provides a good example of a family dealing with a crisis and avoiding breaking apart by keeping closer together. I would recommend the novel to those willing to experience some disturbing and thought-provoking moments.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Huge Surprise, September 9, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Ice Storm (Paperback)
This book has not left me since I read it well over a year ago. Moody's narrative style is comparable to John Cheever with a flair for American culture. This was incredible. Read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Suburbanites in crisis and bad weather, October 28, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Ice Storm (Paperback)
Very taken with Moody's novel Purple America, and having recently endured a like weather phenomenon, I recently read and enjoyed Moody's 1994 novel The Ice Storm. Like Purple America, Moody compresses his entire narrative into one 24-hour period, and takes as his subject suburbanites in crisis. In this novel, unerringly capturing the zeitgeist of 1973, Moody tells of marital infidelity, youthful sexual exploration, spouse-swapping (one of the best scenes is a "key" party, where the married couples place their housekeys in a bowl, and the women later draw keys and go home with whichever men to whom the keys belong), and senseless tragedy when a teenager is electricuted during the storm. Moody once again demonstrates his skill as a writer: his prose is never less than interesting, and is often spell-binding both in its language and story. (I understand that The Ice Storm has been made into a movie, and I am curious as to how Moody would translate into film. A trip to the video store is in order).
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recently re-read it, and I'm not keeping it, September 23, 2002
This review is from: The Ice Storm: A Novel (Paperback)
So, um, I recently moved. What does that mean? Well, it means I had to figure out what to keep and what to throw. (Ok, not THROW, but what to sell, give away, and lend out indefinitely... and throw). Guess where this book went? Into the FREE PLEASE TAKE ME pile at the mailroom at work, that's where.
Look, Moody is gifted. He's just not as gifted as he thinks he is. It's a shame his only tools are Faulkneresque sentences and brooding overture. If he could plot a little, he be a durn genius. But with Moody, it ain't about the story. It ain't about the characters. As with all the guys in his little club, he's got The Disease. The disease of expositional overload. And the book suffers greatly for it.
The movie is actually better than the book, for once.
In the movie, each of the children actually feel like something other than cardboard cutouts --- it's as if Charles Schulz took his Peanuts gang and gave them the same free reign as with Chuck, Linus, etc. and installed an even more free 1970s style unsupervised environment that puts the whole gang in overdrive (from many forms of not-quite-harmless stimulation). In the movie, the adults are cardboard cutouts, as the novel clearly indicates them to be, and there is an optimism about the world that we can have that maybe it won't have to be like this for all generations. Yet in the book, the overarching theme is that we are never going to reclaim Peanuts-land gentility and carefreeness. I don't care if Moody is right or wrong (but he did not convince me), but upon re-reading the book did not make me feel like Moody had encompassed his subject any better than the first time I read it. The expositional blockage is still in the way.
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The Ice Storm: A Novel
The Ice Storm: A Novel by Rick Moody (Paperback - April 10, 2002)
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