The national bestseller and basis for the Ang Lee film is a “powerful” novel of two troubled families during a blizzard in 1970s suburban Connecticut (Newsday).
A potentially devastating blizzard approaches New Canaan, Connecticut, while internal forces of desire, frustration, and ennui threaten to tear apart two quintessentially affluent, suburban families. Elena Hood rightfully suspects her husband, Benjamin, is having an affair with neighbor Janey Williams, while Benjamin resents Elena and his mounting feelings of ineptitude. As the snow begins to fall, Benjamin and Elena, as well as Janey and her husband, attend a neighborhood “key party,” where they and other respectable suburbanites agree to go home with whomever’s keys they draw from a bowl. Meanwhile, the Hoods’ and Williams’s teenage children are caught up in their own experimentations with sex and drugs as they test the boundaries of their structured upbringing.
With author Rick Moody’s sharp eye for the nuances of suburban life and allusions to 1970s America from Watergate to the Fantastic Four, the novel’s landscape is vivid and immersive. This timeless, unforgettable novel is a compassionate portrayal of flawed characters and reflects Rick Moody’s sharp eye for the contradictions of suburban life.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Rick Moody including rare images from the author’s personal collection.
Exhaustive detailing of early 1970s popular/consumer culture in suburban New England provides the context for this archetypal tale of the American nuclear family in decline. The affluent WASP community of New Canaan, Conn., is home to the Hood and Williams families, neighboring two-parent, two-child households built around increasingly dysfunctional marriages. Benjamin Hood, plagued by a loss of importance at work and a growing drinking problem, pursues an ill-fated affair with Janey Williams; his wife, Elena, feels herself losing what little regard she has left for him. Meanwhile, the adolescent children of both families experiment with sex, alcohol and drugs to find identities and to overcome a ponderous sense of alienation. A neighborhood ``key party,'' at which couples exchange mates by drawing keys out of a bowl, brings the action to a chaotic climax as an apocalyptic winter storm culminates in physical tragedy to match the emotional damage in the small community. Pop-cultural references of the time, from Hush Puppies to the film Billy Jack , pervade the text. Unfortunately, Moody, winner of the Pushcart Press Editors' Book Award for his first novel, Garden State , tends to use these details in a more encyclopedic than evocative manner. His depiction of these families, however, is insightful and convincing, penetrating the thoughts and fears of each individual. And the central tragedy of his tale remains resonant, though his decrying of our cultural wasteland seems a bit stale.