A tour de force, a critical and commercial sensation in the US, and a book that must contend for all the literary prizes — with this book, Rick Moody, in one bound, lands in the very front rank of American writers.
The Great American Novel of its year
The fission of a nuclear family, of a nuclear reactor and of the idea of America
A novel that honours the classical unities — it arcs perfectly across one long, long day in New England — but is thoroughly contemporary in its understanding of the anxieties, paradoxes and desolate dreams of Our Age
Astonishing observational and metaphorical skill
The Holy Trinity of all-American literature, Updike, Bellow and Roth, are now in their twilight years. Here is the first of the next generation to stake a claim on permanence and greatness
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‘Moody is a unique stylist whose beautiful prose weaves helixes of language around the simplest of events… Without that style, Moody’s story might have become mere sentiment. With it, he conjures an altogether rare element of human feeling.’
Stephen Amidon, Sunday Times
‘Powerful and engrossing… Purple America further establishes the author as part of a gifted generation of American writers – writers like David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen – concerned with crises of masculinity and modernity.’
Paul Quinn, TLS
‘This isn’t just a hyped novel – it’s a great one… searing and brilliant.’
‘A densely stylish novel… Moody is a master craftsman.’
Angus Wolfe Murray, Scotsman
‘Magnificent… Rick Moody is that rare writer who can make the language do tricks and and still suffuse his narrative with soul’
The US critics on 'Purple America'
“Rick Moody’s extraordinary third novel covers just one fateful day in the lives of the troubled Raitliffe family, yet seldom has an author crowded so much substance into 24 hours. Billie Raitliffe, 70, has spent two decades in her opulent Connecticut home wasting away with a neurological disease. She has lost her eyesight, her speech, her muscular functions and finally her will to live. And now, even her second husband, Lou Sloane, has left her. Lou’s desertion, announced in the apparently heartless form of a note typed on her computer, has summoned Billie’s only son, Hex, from his foundering Manhattan job as a freelance publicist. But as the alcoholic, stuttering, 38-year-old ne’er-do-well begins administering to his helpless mother, we quickly see he cannot care even for himself …
Moody’s prose dazzles … So rich, in fact, is this book that it demands to be read at least twice. Moody recently confessed, “I’m so plagued by doubt that I wake nights, afraid that I’m a total fraud.” You can go back to sleep, Rick Moody. 'Purple America' leaves no doubt you are the genuine article”
ANDY SOLOMON, 'Chicago Tribune'
“Moody’s singular achievement here is his prose. The voice is like a giant radio that tunes in bursts of dialogue and dart into the characters’ heads for a phrase or a protracted outburst, all the while keeping up a continuous running commentary. It is a massive, unstoppable force … Moody has established himself as the pre-eminent chronicler of suburbia’s decay.”
LUC SANTE, 'New York'
“In the first three chapters of this breathtaking book, a son bathes his almost completely incapacitated mother. Over and over, she tries and fails to speak. The resonance of these minimal actions is both theatrical and intimate, hilarious and heartbreaking. And then the plot takes off, laying out the events of a single horrific weekend … There follows a chase scene of a sort, violence of a sort, sex of a sort – but mostly language of every dazzling sort, from the poignant innermost workings of a time-eroded brain to the acid slapstick of guys acting asinine. This is language that gives a new and better meaning to the term “purple prose” … Mr Moody has been compared to John Cheever, with ample justification. He has the same knockabout whimsy careering into keen lament. But Moody’s work has a distinctive rawness: it’s more steeped in rage. He’s also funnier, and to that degree less reconciled to the world as he finds it. Cheever had less to forgive; the waterfall of language here is full of toxic sludge. Perhaps this is only to say that John Cheever belonged to midcentury, while Rich Moody is a chronicler of the middle class for the millennium.”
JANET BURROWAY, 'New York Times'
“Moody is a tremendously talented and ambitious writer … His prose is lush and wonderfully loose-limbed … through his sensitive exploration of Billie’s consciousness, Moody leads his reader to wonder about what is left of human life when basic communication is blocked, or when it must be channeled through an electronic apparatus. All that remains when language fails are “recollections and daydreams” … The only fluent voice in 'Purple America' is Mr Moody’s. No choked syntax or syllabic purée here. All the leakage and blockage is redeemed by the expertly modulated control of the writer, whose fluid output is art.”
ADAM BELGEY, 'New York Observer'
“Purple America, Moody’s third, and by far best, novel … is an account of 24 hours in the life of a dying old woman who’s losing her ability to communicate with the outside world and who’s cared for by her stuttering, alcoholic son. It’s a family book, a treatise on the failure of language … The purple that runs through the main character’s interior monologues is the bruise inflicted on the nuclear family by the technology of the Nuclear Age.”
JOEL STEIN, 'Time Out'
“This is a ‘big’ book – always ambitious, often brilliant. Moody is a master prose stylist … and confirms with 'Purple America' that he is a writer of immense gifts.”
JOSHUA HENKIN, 'San Francisco Chronicle'
“'Purple America' lights the road to chaos with creepy realism … resonant without being unduly obvious, [its] characters are emotionally intricate, and its tensions adroitly controlled.”
“With 'Purple America', Moody’s fiction-making … achieves a dense core of mood, memory, and meaning from which emanate astonishing reaches of language, family lore, social commentary, and black humour”.
LISA SHEA, 'Elle'
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Book Description Flamingo, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110002256878