-Kirkus calls it a “rollicking romp,” The Millions refers to it as a “supercollider” in its highly anticipated reading of 2010 list, and The Observer‘s Short List classifies it as “touching and outrageous;” a “hypnotic” novel that’s Rick Moody’s “best in years.” The Four Fingers of Death–a hefty novel within a novel, tribute to Kurt Vonnegut, and an adventure in film reinterpretation and imagined alternative realities–certainly has people talking. Enthusiasts on Good Reads form a long line down the page, each marking Moody’s latest as a “to-read” in their queue.
-Rick Moody is an author that critics love to hate. The New York Observer deemed him a “narcissist,” and the negative labels get so much worse, we dare not to mention all of them in what is soon to be an effervescent post about the fellow. Even the sourest of critics, though, seem to be doing double takes at Moody’s latest novel, his first out in five years. At a hefty 736 pages, The Four Fingers of Death seems primed for another barrage of denunciation. But this time, as The NY Observer puts it: “Absurd, dramatic, sententious, the novel’s first half contains all the components that have been criticized in Mr. Moody’s writing, with the addition of one factor that has been largely absent from the author’s fiction for so long: It is fun to read.” Reviewer Michael H. Miller continues, admitting almost, that “buried within is a masterpiece.”
-The science fiction and tech blogger Charlie Jane Ander of i09 deems The Four Fingers as possibly the “most metafictional fantasy book of all time” and a “great love letter to science fiction.” Perhaps a love letter to film as well, as part of Moody’s narrative is a tribute to a 1960’s short film, The Crawling Hand. Lucky for you, i09 has even posted the short film on its website, making for a nice tickler before you crack the book open. Galleycat also has the short horror film posted, along with a brief review.
-Speaking of film, The Four Fingers of Death has its own–trailer that is. Filmmaker Magazine blurbs about the trailer and posts it here.
–Time Out New York starts its review by explaining how un-metaphorical the Four Fingers are. “They are literally four digits attached to the infected severed arm of a dead astronaut who picked up some nasty bacteria on Mars.” Beyond these grotesque digits, Moody has always been interested in change and evolution, riffs this reviewer, “the way people, families, connections and societies shift, transmogrify and decay.”
-Speakeasy, the culture blog of the WSJ, interviewed Moody about his “sprawling energetic comic novel.” Begins writer Steven Kurutz: “This is the age of shortened attention spans. Where do you get off writing a 725-page novel?” Moody shoots back: “I think there’s still life in the old-fashioned, big long story.”
-Curious as to what Moody’s horror-flick preferences are? Kurutz was too, and so he posted another short interview where you can find out.
-Finally, say you would like start the book off with a clean mind, untainted by critical eyes of all these bloggers and literary analysts. Don’t have your copy yet? Head no further than The Wall Street Journal, which has posted the introduction on its website, revealing how the novel’s narrator, Montese Crandall, learns to pare down his overflowing ideas into six-word sentences. With that I intone, Happy Reading!