The Diviners by Rick Moody

It’s Fall, at least by the publishing calendar. That means the big hitters roll out big books, influential titles designed to stoke reader interest and fiscal results, summer tans fading, back to work, back to school. Time to get literary.

The Diviners is a maddening novel, brilliant, funny, annoying, over the top. Don’t think of it as a novel, not in terms of scene and sequel, storyline or plot. Don’t do that, because if you do, you might take the book back to the store and hit someone in the head with it.

The book is enjoyable once those expectations are held in abeyance, immensely rewarding at times. It is perfectly safe to skip the prologue and head for Chapter One, because the prologue sets up a dimension of the story you can probably take for granted, that we toil on this earth deaf, dumb, and blind to the majesty of nature. But you knew that.

Once the characters get rolling, there is no stopping them. Moody introduces tangent upon tangent, many of which are funny and insightful, all of which serve multiple masters, including ambition, wealth, fame, celebrity, colitis, driving directions, the fall of Rome, the cycle of failure in cultural dress, greed, envy, and good places to drink. He also presents Adam and Eve as both myth and screenplay material. Read the book in sections, front to back or the other way around, the writing is well worth the exasperation.

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