Novelist dares to say the unsayable

For me, going to the Kelly Writers House in late September to watch author Rick Moody read was like being asked to take a bite of exotic seafood. Though reluctant at first, the gratifying satisfaction of the first bite dismissed any feelings of doubt I had about coming to see a writer whom I had never heard of.

But I had heard of “The Ice Storm,” a movie based on his 1994 novel of the same name.

Moody has created a name for himself in the literary world. He is the author of two other novels — “Garden State” and “Purple America.” He also has two collections of stories, “The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven” and the forthcoming “Demonology,” a collection of short stories.

Teresa Leo, who helped coordinate Moody’s appearance, informed me that he was the kind of writer that “moves you into thinking. He has a way of talking about the human condition that not many people want to look at. He deals with the ‘unsayable’ and confronts it head on.”

In the selection he read from “Purple America,” Moody’s main character is caring for his sick mother, describing bathing her and the mixed pleasure and horror of seeing more of her than he wants to see.

In the two selections Moody read — the second was a short story, “Boys,” taken from “Demonology” — he employs a poetic prose style marked by repetition.

“He has a poetic way with words,” said audience member Tahneer Oksman (C’01). “It’s hard to keep your reader involved by using that form of repetition but he manipulates words and is entertaining and moving at the same time.” Oksman and two other students were at the reading as part of their independent study on all the Kelly Writers House readers.

After the reading Moody answered questions from an audience of about 60 that ranged from his philosophy of writing to his views on the upcoming presidential election.

“Gore has a 15-point lead in New York,” he said. “I think it would be safe for me to vote for Nader.”

The reading, sponsored by the Creative Writing Department, can be viewed by logging on to Moody can also be heard reading his short story, “Twister,” at


Originally published on October 12, 2000