Rick Moody’s new Diviners looks good to me. I almost always like his eponymously moody books, which carry Raymond Carver’s emotionally charged minimalism into the age of MTV and CNN.
However, I can’t approve of a short essay in which he tells us he is tired of rock music. He unwittingly reveals the real problem when he cites Sonic Youth and Nels Cline as the kind of music he approves of. Forget that critically-acclaimed college-radio fancy stuff, which was never very exciting in the first place. I took my son to see System of a Down last month, and based on that evidence alone: yes, there are still excellent new bands doing excellent new things. Rick just has to stop trying to be all cool.
Another novelist in the news is Jonathan Lethem, who just won the very lucrative and highly desired MacArthur Fellowship grant, along with numerous cell biologists, theoretical chemists and economists. Which means at this moment there are hundreds of hip novelists around the world saying “Why him and not me?”
They’re right. I read Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn and it rang phony to me the whole way through. I’d rather see Rick Moody win this grant, musical snob or not.