Thursday, September 25, 2008

Book Blurb: Right Livelihoods

Reminder: Enter the drawing for Josh Henkin's Matrimony on Monday's post. Read the rules for valid entries carefully. More than one has not given me contact info. Contest ends at NOON Pacific Coast Time Monday, September 29, 2008

Right Livelihoods: Three Novellas
by Rick Moody
(c) 2007
Hardback: Little Brown & Co
Trade Paperback: Back Bay Books (August 2008)

At the center of The Omega Force, which opens RIGHT LIVELIHOODS, is a buffoonish former government official in rocky recovery. Dr. "Jamie" Van Deusen is determined to protect his habitat--its golf courses (and Bloody Marys), pizza places (and beers) from "dark complected" foreign nationals. His patriotism and wild imagination are mainly fueled by a fall off the wagon. The collection's second novella, K & K, concerns a lonely young office manager at an insurance agency, where the office suggestion box is yielding unpleasant messages that escalate to a scary pitch. Ellie Knight- Cameron's responses to these random diatribes illuminate the toll that a lack of self-awareness can take. The book ends with a cataclysmic vision of New York City, after the leveling of 50 square blocks of Manhattan. Four million have died. Albertine, the "street name for the buzz of a lifetime," is a mindaltering drug that sets The Albertine Notes in motion. Only Rick Moody could lead us to feel affection for the various misguided, earnestly striving characters in this alternately unsettling and warm trio of stories.
I like eccentric characters and there are plenty of those in these three stories, beginning with their rather unreliable POV protagonists but it is the questions in the Reading Group Guide that really draw me to these stories:

1. How do you think the Buddhist concept of “right livelihood” (making a living without harming others) plays out in these three novellas?....

2. In what ways are the three novellas linked by a post- 9/11 national psychology?...

3. Which did you respond to most: the realistic rendition of post- traumatic emotions in “K&K”? The seriocomic approach of “The Omega Force”? Or the futuristic elements of “The Albertine Notes”?

6. How is reading and misreading key to each story? Meaning and misunderstanding?

That last one intrigues me a lot because I like stories that make me think. I am also interested in the concepts themselves as I've stated here before: I like thinking about thinking.

Read an excerpt.

As announced in this post, this is the tenth of twelve Book Blurbs I plan to do for the review copies I received from Hachette books last month. There will also be more substantial book reviews for each of them as either Ed or I read them.

0 tell me a story:

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