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The Diviners: A Novelby Rick Moody
Synopses & Reviews
In his first novel in seven years, Rick Moody gives us a generous, hilarious, and brilliant look at contemporary America, from coast to coast. In the month after Election Day 2000, scores of movie-business strivers are focused on one goal: getting in on an elusive production that seems sure to be the Next Big Thing. It is an epic about dowsers, those miracle workers who bring water to perpetually thirsty (and hungry and love-starved) humankind. The movie — or TV miniseries, as it eventually becomes — opens with Huns sweeping through Mongolia and closes with a Mormon diviner finding water in the Las Vegas desert. A rumor-driven industry is sure that it will be the please-everyone, multigenerational, multiethnic hit of all their dreams.
Among the wannabes in pursuit of this ephemeral project: Vanessa Meandro, hot-tempered head of Means of Production, a hip New York indie film company; her harried and varied staff, including a Sikh cabdriver promoted to the office of "theory and practice of TV" and the daughter of an LA media big shot, who is hired to fetch Vanessa's Krispy Kremes and more; a bipolar bicycle messenger who makes a fateful misdelivery; two celebrity publicists, the Vanderbilt girls; a thriller writer who gives Botox parties; a word man who coined the phrase "inspired by a true story"; and a Supreme Court justice who wants to write the script. A few real artists surface in the course of Moody's rollicking and intricately woven tale, and real emotion will eventually blossom for most of Vanessa's staff at Means of Production — even for Vanessa herself.
The Diviners is a richly detailed look at the interlocking worlds of entertainment, money, politics, addiction, sex, work, and family in modern America. In this affectionate but unflinching cautionary tale about vanity, ambition, and life's unlikely paths, Rick Moody delivers a masterpiece of comedy that will bring him to a still higher level of appreciation.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"From Tin House contributing editor Rick Moody comes a sprawling, wildly entertaining satire of LA, revolving around the making of a thirteen-part miniseries about the history of water-seekers. More fun than you can shake a stick at." Tin House magazine
"[A] dizzying, exhilarating comic narrative....Moody has an uncanny ability to mimic almost any form of language...in the most hilarious fashion. Usually the purveyor of much darker fare, he seems to be having a blast with this wild and woolly take on our media-saturated culture, and so will his readers." Booklist (Starred Review)
"The novel develops few of its many characters beyond caricature....It all adds up (or doesn't) to a bloated book about cultural bloat, an empty look at cultural emptiness. A novel that might well have been more fun to write than it is to read." Kirkus Reviews
"If you prefer a more straightforward narrative, this might not be the book for you, but if you like watching the smartest kid in the room do his stuff, The Diviners is like a Broadway musical filled with nothing but showstoppers, as Moody performs one bravura set piece after another." James Hynes, The Washington Post
"Funny, fierce, and generous, Moody's maximalist prose gives the writer leeway, and the reader pleasure." Boston Globe
"[Moody's] extravagant style is certainly amusing, but his characters are so large that their solipsistic whining loses its edge....The resulting novel has patches of brilliance, but they are separated by some long, loose and occasionally difficult to fathom sections." Denver Post
"[L]augh-out-loud funny, with a satiric edge but none of the sour contempt so pervasive these days....Despite its flaws, The Diviners is an astonishing book. More Cirque du Soleil than Brecht, but dazzling nonetheless." Los Angeles Times
"Do we need a 500-page novel to explain that a culture of hip-hop impresarios, chirpy publicists and 'horror movies where all the jokes are about other horror movies' is kind of dumb? And there's an off-putting prankishness to Moody's enterprise..." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"The Diviners may be aimed at an obvious target...but it pulls off being sardonic about the silly seriousness of pop culture, and it's penetrating in dissecting the characters' humanity." San Francisco Chronicle
"[T]hough it possesses all the trappings of a big, ambitious social novel, The Diviners fails to make good on the promise of its varied and entertaining cast and ultimately leaves the reader hungry for more." Rocky Mountain News
"If one leaves The Diviners wishing it had been a few hundred pages longer, that's the kind of problem any writer should envy and any reader should relish. Hallelujah!" Chicago Tribune
With savvy and structural mastery not unlike Tom Wolfe and Jonathan Franzen, Moody has penned a hilarious and generous novel about ambition, folly, and the tyranny of buzz.
About the Author
Rick Moody is the author of Demonology, Purple America, The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven, The Ice Storm, and Garden State, which won the Pushcart Press Editors' Book Award. He is a past recipient of the Addison Metcalf Award and a Guggenheim fellowship. Moody has contributed fiction and essays to most major publications and has been widely anthologized. He lives in New York.
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