In the Desert, Prime Time

John Leonard reviews The Diviners by Rick Moody, in the New York Review of Books:

Moody_rick20020926Yes, I know, before one reviews a new book by Rick Moody, it seems now to be obligatory to cough up a couple of fur-ball paragraphs about the author and his animadverters. This is because, ever since the publication more than three years ago of his rehab/guilt-trip memoir, The Black Veil, “Rick Moody” has turned into something about which it is necessary to have a position, like sport-utility vehicles, stem cell research, or waterboarding. Permit me to hold these paragraphs in reserve until we have actually read what he’s written.

Before it raptures up and wimps out, Moody’s most recent novel, The Diviners, is not only longer and funnier than his previous three but also more accommodating. While he may still rev his motor too much, he is thinking out loud about larger matters than the substance abuse, sexual dysfunction, and sudden death in the northeast suburbs that preoccupied Garden State, The Ice Storm, and Purple America. In developing a Marx Brothers meet Thomas Pynchon plot about a frantic search, in the weeks immediately following the dead-heat presidential election of November 2000, for a much-hyped but mysteriously missing television script on dowsing through the ages, he explores the American thirst for something, anything, to believe in, our national hunger for the latest trumped-up or knocked-off meanings.

More here.