Michel Butor wrote a very interesting postmodern novel titled Mobile. The structure of the novel was a criss-crossing of America on various highways and lesser roads. Most readers had no idea of the themes being presented and the overall value of the fiction. Others were a bit less confused. But still, the consensus of readers in that reading group concluded that Mobile was best left for academics or especially strange people to read.
Now Rick Moody writes a similar novel titled, Hotels of North America. Moody places himself in the fiction as a writer hired to promote the soon to be published collected reviews of a truly fictional character (who may be several layers of fictional characters) taken from an online review of the hotels of North America. The collected reviews are witty and presumably informative, but the reviewer seldom restricts his writing to the hotel experience itself.
“The Collected Writings of Reginald Edward Morse” are more of a character study than a hotel review. Although the hotels being reviewed are not restricted to North America and in some instances they are not hotels at all, what the reader receives is not just a hotel recommendation on Route 70 in Missouri, but rather the reviewer’s response to that hotel and all the human background that brought him to that hotel and assisted in disrupting his feelings and emotions.
By the end of the novel the reader had built up a strong image of Reginald. But then Reginald disappears. Moody returns to offer some followup investigation into the real life Reginald, or at least the person who wrote all the online hotel reviews.
It all ends in a bit of a mystery but nowhere near as confusing as Butor’s novel.
Rick Moody is a good author: maybe not in the pantheon of the great writers but entertaining and satisfying. Try some of his work.
- Garden State (1992)
- The Ice Storm (1994)
- Purple America (1996)
- The Diviners (2005)
- The Four Fingers of Death (2010)
- Hotels of North America (2015)
- Boys (2001, part of Demonology)
- Fiction collections
- The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven (novella and stories, 1995)
- Demonology (stories, 2001)
- Right Livelihoods (novellas, 2007)
- The Black Veil: A Memoir with Digressions (2002)
- On Celestial Music: And Other Adventures in Listening (2012)
- Surplus Value Books: Catalog Number 13 (Illustrated by David Ford) (1999)
As editor or contributor
- Joyful Noise: The New Testament Revisited (co-editor, with Darcey Steinke, and contributor) (1997)
- The Magic Kingdom, by Stanley Elkin (introduction to the Dalkey Archives trade paperback reprint) (2000)
- A Convergence of Birds: Original Fiction and Poetry Inspired by Joseph Cornell (contributor) (2001)
- The Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy (introduction to the Oxford World’s Classics edition) (2002)
- Lithium for Medea, by Kate Braverman (introduction to the Seven Stories Press trade paperback reprint) (2002)
- Twilight: Photographs by Gregory Crewdson (text) (2002)
- “William Gaddis: A Portfolio.” Conjunctions #41 (2003)
- Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible (contributor, short fiction envisioning a modern-day Jonah) (2004)
- The Wilco Book (contributor) (2004)
- The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel (introduction) (2006)
- The Flash (contributor) (2007)
- The Rumpus (Music blogger) (2009)
- J R, by William Gaddis (introduction to the Dalkey Archive trade paperback reprint) (2012)