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Garden State: A Novel Paperback – April 2, 1997

3.4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of two much-admired novels of suburban anomie here delivers 10 ingenious but uneven stories with a wide range of subjects, styles and voices. Shaped as treatments, sketches and journal entries as well as traditional short stories, these literate, sharply delineated, darkly funny but occasionally contrived pieces explore the vicissitudes of life in New York City and its suburbs. Moody's (The Ice Storm) most compelling characters are desolate or wrongheaded losers, like the narrator of "Preliminary Notes," a manic insurance investigator whose attempts to record his wife's phone calls reveal that their marriage is about to collapse. "The Apocalypse Commentary of Bob Paisner," a hilarious variation on Pale Fire, is a story in the form of a term paper by a collegiate misfit obsessed with connections between his life and the Book of Revelations. In "Pip Adrift," the deranged African American cabin boy in Moby-Dick recounts falling overboard; "Primary Sources" is Moody's autobiography framed as a bibliography with footnotes. The title piece, a novella, is a gritty, lyrical but dispassionate portrait of young people whose lives intersect and bottom out in a dystopian New York of heroin dens and sex clubs. An affecting but noncohesive collection that, despite flashes of brilliance, sometimes strains for effect.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

These New Jersey kids have it all: rage, poverty, depression, paranoia, violent sex, cheap booze, mental hospitals, nihilism, street drugs, suicide. It's an American nightmare set to a blaring punk-and-thrash soundtrack. What are their prospects: "Nothing had come since high school and . . . nothing would come of the years ahead." What about their parents: "Lower down, Ruthie loved disaster." Not deeper down, just lower. Work is a trap, family a sick joke, and not even fantasy brings relief: "Fantasies are like ideals. . . . Close in on them and they move. Further out, mostly." Unlike Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho ( LJ 1/91) and similar rolls in the sleaze, this book is well and subtly written. You may not initially identify with these folks, but you learn just how they feel, why they try to escape, and why running solves nothing. In the end, can there be any hope that a cynical heavy metal bimbo and a fragile former mental patient will help each other turn their lives around? Well, maybe. This winner of Pushcart's Tenth Annual Editors' Book Award is very powerful. Highly recommended.
- Jim Dwyer, California State Univ. at Chico
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Back Bay ed. edition (April 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316557633
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316557634
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,365,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have only recently discovered Rick Moody & in a short period have read almost all of his books - this is my favourite. The stories here are reasonably varied in content, & he has a lot of fun taking liberties with form & style & content (what a story should be). These are not necessarily just straight narratives, but play around with ideas of meaningful coincedence & circles of happenings. It's always good to see a writer unafraid of taking risks in order to get at some sort of truth - it's what great artistry is all about (I think anyway). I too, along with the other person who has written a review, like the stories 'Phrase Book' (the girl who took a massive hit of acid) and 'The Apocalypse of Bob Paisner' (a term paper in which a guy flunking out of school relates his life to the Bible). One thing about Moody, apart from everything else, is that his characters here are always wholly believeable. Even if the situations are sometimes extreme, the characters ring true - they are created with a great deal of empathy, & if the reaction to them isn't always empathetic, at least it's with understanding. This, to me, is the most important feature. The last story in the book is quite self-revelatory. It's a neat idea - Moody uses a selection of books from his bookshelf as a 'Bibliography' & footnotes occasional ones in order to explain certain parts of his life. I think it takes a person a lot of courage to expose themselves implicitly like this (but it sure beats a publishers blurb on the back cover). Rick Moody is a very good writer & you don't get too much better in contemporary writing than Ring of the Brightest Angels Around Heaven.
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By A Customer on July 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
Although I dressed really strange in college and high school (I wore the "big black boots" before it was popular for EVERYONE to wear them), and hung out with people who were in bands and wanted to be DJ's, it was kind of hard to believe that everyone in this group of friends had a drug problem. Perhaps that's because I'm a product of the 80's and just never got into drugs. However, I found the descriptions of how the characters in the book felt about their current situations riveting. I was always curious to know why people did it, and I guess "Garden State" answered some of my questions. Mr. Moody's descriptions of New Jersey were like I've always pictured it, gray and industrial, with nothing much going on but trains, cars and malls. It was also amazing that this was somebody's first novel, written by someone who was so young. The chapters seemed to have been written by somebody who is much more older and has lived through a lot more than th! e average college student. Perhaps life experiences have brought this into the novel. More enjoyable to me than the novel, however, was Mr. Moody's story behind it in his added preface. Everyone has their own "cuts that don't heal" (not necessarily in the literal sense), and I think it took a lot of courage on the part of the author to openly write about his life and the background of what went on when he was writing this story (which I probably related to more readily than the story itself). It actually was that preface that helped me understand the novel better. This novel should not be taken just as it is -- there is a lot more underneath the surface and it leaves the reader with a lot to think about.
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By A Customer on July 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I read this book by chance as a project in school. I happened to see the cover of it and got interested, a very fortunate coincidence for me. The book contains a number of stories, and every one is individual. They capture you and immerse you into a big pot of feelings and thoughts, which is extremely hard to get away from. Every story is individual because they all have something special, like one in which a man connects all the happenings in his life to the apocalypse of the Bible, or the one in which an interview is taking place with a girl who took 70 hits of acid in one day and survived with a wacko mind. The stories are not grand or magnificent, but small and commonplace. I instantly fell in love with this book and this author and I can strongly recommend anyone interested in more or less alternative reading to read it.
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Format: Paperback
Rich Moody won a Pushcart award for this. Nominations for the award come from editors who would have liked to publish a book, but couldn't usually for commercial reasons. It's easy to see why publishing it at most commercial houses would have been difficult. Moody is a tough and challenging writer, but well worth the effort. It is not just New Jersey that he captures, but a very real group of young people and a very real time in America. I recommend all of his books, but have a special feeling for Garden State.
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Format: Paperback
Rich Moody won a Pushcart award for this. Nominations for the award come from editors who would have liked to publish a book, but couldn't usually for commercial reasons. It's easy to see why publishing it at most commercial houses would have been difficult. Moody is a tough and challenging writer, but well worth the effort. It is not just New Jersey that he captures, but a very real group of young people and a very real time in America. I recommend all of his books, but have a special feeling for Garden State.
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