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Demonology: Stories

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  1,333 ratings  ·  114 reviews
Rick Moody's novels have earned him a reputation as a "breathtaking" writer (The New York Times) and "a writer of immense gifts" (The San Francisco Examiner). His remarkable short stories have led both the New Yorker and Harpers to single him out as one of the most original and admired voices in a generation.
These stories are abundant proof of Rick Moody's grace as a styl
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 10th 2002 by Back Bay Books (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

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Fucking terrible. And I thought Chuck Palahniuk was a bad writer. Sorry, dude.
I picked this up on impulse from the library's shelves because Dale Peck savaged it. (And also because it was there, which it wasn't like a month ago. I heart you, English language collections guy.)

I have no idea if it's any good, but I'm more than prepared to read it out of spite. Take that, Dale.

So, the shorter pieces are definitely uneven: I am much more into the experiments where he tries to shove one type of narrative into a different form (liner not
Trixie B
May 29, 2007 Trixie B added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one.
Oh man, I HATED this book. In this short story collection, Rick Moody artfully applies all of the worst elements of fiction to create saccharine, predictable stories about character that are flat and unsympathetic. I was thrilled when bad stuff happened to them. This is one book I didn't even bother to finish - I got through the 100+ story right in the middle and then threw the book across the room, resolving to flip this guy off if I ever meet him. I think Rick Moody has singlehandedly soured m ...more
Jon Weidler
I picked this up because I'd read the titular story in college and remembered liking it (then again, that was a decade ago). I also thought Moody's "The Diviners" was a solid novel. Just over 100 pages in, I made an executive decision to abandon "Demonology," because 1) it's like a bad edition of David Foster Wallace karaoke; 2) the stories I read mistook verbosity for depth; 3) I didn't give a damn about a single character or event; and 4) life is too short for bad books. Moody writes in a mad ...more
Drew Barth
A Pack of Smarties for the Salinger

Moody, Rick. Demonology. Back Bay Books, Boston: 2001.

“The Chicken Mask was sorrowful, Sis,” (3). This first line, the first sentence for “The Mansion on the Hill” the first story from Rick Moody’s short fiction collection Demonology, creates a tone that the rest of the book follows: madcap mourning. It’s the class clown, who, even after the death of a parent, still cracks a few jokes in the middle of a lecture.
Every story, ranging from the aforementioned “The
His use of italics gets really annoying after awhile. In an interview he said it was one of the hallmarks of his style, although he didn’t say why he did it. It must mean something to him, but I have to say that most of the time (the only exception being when he uses it to indicate dialogue) I don't see what that emphasis accomplishes for him, especially when he overuses it so much. Not sure, but—with the possible exception of the novellas—I don't think there's a single story in this collection ...more
I feel I was meant to read this book because of two coincidences: One, I had just finished Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and had no idea about the connection between the two authors when I began the book. (Eggers is even thanked by Moody at the end of the book.) Two, I was eating a bowl of lentil soup when I read the sentence in "The Carnival Tradition" about the girl buying lentil soup. I don't take these things lightly.

I checked out this book because it was referenced in t
I haven't always been a big a fan of short story collections.

My main criticisms is that it's hard to form a coherence among the pieces. A short story is something that needs to be able to exist outside of a collection.

When you gather a group of them together in a single book, it's like that first day of kindergarten class: some are going to mesh, some are going to clash and a scarce percentage are going to grow up to realize that they were conceived in the wrong time and use that as an excuse
Trever Pollack
Okay, so admittedly I read pieces of this for less than ten minutes, but I didn't want to read any more. Moody didn't give off a good vibe here. I feel like he was trying to write an imitation of Brief Interview With Hideous Men but failing at it. Moody tries to use DFW's style but he fails to capture the sense of disorder Wallace does. Basically, when DFW writes some long rambly sentence in, say, "The Depressed Person", there's a reason. It's almost free indirect speech except he always writes ...more
Finally finished this book and all I can say is it certainly brought out the demon in me, because I strongly disliked it.
While some of the short stories were interesting, many of them were so jumbled and inconsistent that I was unable to make heads of tails of their purpose.

Some of the ways in which the stories were written were interesting; for instance one story was written as a track list of songs through years and each list had a column to the left explaining why certain songs were chosen.
So it finally happened, I finally got hold of a book I just couldn't finish. I liked the first story, though I felt it was slightly dragged out, but the stories beyond that felt like watching a beautiful shade of paint dry. Or putting up pretty wall paper up. After nearly 85 pages I felt like I'd been punched by a baby like 100 times.
Rick Moody is an excellent writer. No doubt about that. I liked Garden State- The Ice Storm- and Purple America even though they were all gloomy. Which brings me to an important point about Rick Moody's writing: don't read it if youre the slightest bit depressed because you'll be suicidal by the time you're finished. That's one of the problems I had with Demonology. I'd just lost my job- my grandmother died recently- my estranged father had a stroke and major heart surgery over the last few week ...more
Let me say how happy I was to come across this collection while browsing at my local library. Both The Ice Storm & Garden State are on my Favorite Movie list, and I am a fan of short stories in general so I opened this book excited to delve into Mr. Moody's written word. Then it became what I like to refer to as adult homework, when I have to assign myself a number of pages or set amount of time to read and push myself to complete the book. Not because I have to, mind you, but because I want ...more
Enjoyed most of the short stories in this book. I did a class report on "Boys", and actually got Rick Moody to comment on the story:

Hey Charlotte,

Thanks for your note, and for reading "Boys."

The story came in this way: at the time of its composition there was a vogue in writing circles for "short short" stories. That is, stories under 1500 words or so. I had not written a piece this short before, really, but I was eager to try. I was at a reading one night, and I heard an older writer read a ver
Some books you read and they just stick with you always. This is one of those books. It serves as a representative sample of the worst excesses of postmodernism and snobbery. Demonology is a chronicle of pretentiousness, full of words and sentences constructed to look insightful but which have little, if any, real meaning. If you're interested in the lives of pathetic, prep school twits, this is your book. Want a deeper truth? Look somewhere else. To paraphrase movie critic Roger Ebert: "I hated ...more
I want to write a thoughtful review (I always WANT to write a thoughtful review, but I usually either write nothing or a short sentence or two). But I am all a-jumble. I read this collection over a few months, which was undoubtedly the best way to read it. This is not a collection of short stories that you can, in my opinion, treat like a novel, going from p. 1 to p. 300 all nice and tidy like. These stories are not tidy. They are not the same, or similar, or remotely alike. There's a couple of ...more
Rick Moody has a very distinct writing style. He likes extremely lengthy sentences, and italics for no particular reason. This made these stories fairly exhausting to read. Some of them seemed worth this effort and some did not.
Mike Ingram
Damn the tyranny of the GoodReads star system. As if the most appropriate response to literature is to become little Eberts?

I liked most of the stories here. A few of them made me all tingly in my nether regions. A couple were lame. Such is life.
Like all of Moody's worst writing, these are more concept than story, which makes for flat, impersonal reading. Sort of like all the "art" that ArtForum covers these days, but rendered in word.
My first Rick Moody book but I left this collection of short stories with mixed feelings and with some unfinished too. Moody can capture different voices well but sometimes it becomes a little too arch for my taste. There are some good ideas but at times style wins out over content: liner notes for a decade-spanning box-set soundtrack to a life was a clever format but I found the story neither engaging or illuminating. And overall I was in the mood for concise, potent and even cryptic tales; and ...more
I can’t remember which literary publication called, last spring, for submissions for their upcoming list-themed issue. The editors were inviting lists of all sorts, anything from grocery lists to bucket lists that might be entertaining to read, claiming that we all love a good list. Lists as literature; surely, Rick Moody is at the foundation of this. Approximately one third of his almost three hundred page collection, Demonology, is a list of some sort or other.
I scribbled myself a reminder
Like others, I'm guessing, I arrived at this collection because of the oft-anthologized title story, which is fantastic and poignant and beautiful and true. The rest of the stories were written with an engaging narrative voice and inventive form, but most felt gimmicky. I learned after the first couple that there would always be a punchline, so if the story was long, like "The Carnival Tradition," it wasn't worth the protracted wait to arrive at the "hah" moment. Most of these were one-timers, w ...more
Although I find some of the book funny, most of it entertaining, and none of it completely abysmal, this collection of short stories does not completely stand out for me. It's a blissfully quick read, and has its fair share of complicated metaphors and glimpses into what life can truly be like.

I won't condemn the book, but it's similarities to more potent storytellers of the modern age pushes me away from it. For that reason, it's not entirely worth skipping, but I wouldn't bump this up to the t
Theking Ofalltacos
i need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it firsti need to read it ...more
after having read The Ice Storm and Garden State many moons ago (the late 90s), I had lost track of Rick Moody. Not that he went anywhere. I even have a copy of Purple America that I have never read. But I just never found myself drawn back to him. Recently I had to read Demonology for a class and also had the chance to meet Moody at a reading. I have fallen into his post-Ice Storm work with much enthusiasm. It doesn't always work ("Hawaiian Night" is conceptually interesting but almost too dens ...more
The title story I think is top-dog awesome. I saw him read it and everyone was crying and he ran off afterwards crying - he'd never read it in public because it's about his sister's death. I taught this story and it went over well -- like that Lorrie Moore story with the baby with cancer ("People Like That Are the Only People Here"), this is one of those stories that states, while proceeding in totally conventional fictional form, that this shit ain't close to fiction and it's only presented in ...more
I'm not usually a fan of fiction, but a lot of these stories read more like extended poems than a typical narrative, so the usual tediousness of reading a whole novel is avoided. Some of the stories are a bit drawn out/monotonous, especially when Moody starts page-long lists (one story is simply a list of mix tapes made at different points of a character's life), but the last one, "Demonology," from which the compilation gets its name, is probably my favorite short story ever. The interjected pa ...more
Rick Moody experiments with form, and I really enjoy it even when the story doesn't ultimately grab me. I am impressed by his breadth and daring. And when his experiments work, they really are gorgeous.
Patrick Lindsey
Like any collection of short stories, there were some great ones and some duds. Personal favorites:
"The Mansion on the Hill"
"Hawaiian Night"
"The Carnival Tradition"
"Wilkie Fahnstock, The Boxed Set"
Once again Rick Moody demonstrates that he is one of our finest writers in this fine collection of short stories. He is now one of our most astute observers of suburban life in the northeastern United States, crafting richly textured vignettes on despair with his sparse, lyrical prose. Not every story in this collection succeeds, but most show Moody at the top of his form. Indeed, the title story of this collection is one of the most amazing, emotionally gripping tales I have read on how a dysfu ...more
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Rick Moody (born Hiram Frederick Moody, III on October 18, 1961, New York City), is an American novelist and short story writer best known for The Ice Storm (1994), a chronicle of the dissolution of two suburban Connecticut families over Thanksgiving weekend in 1973, which brought widespread acclaim, and became a bestseller; it was later made into a feature film.

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“Have I mentioned that I expect death around every turn, that every blue sky has a safe sailing out of it, that every bus runs me over, that every low, mean syllable uttered in my direction seems to intimate the violence of murder, that every family seems like an opportunity for ruin and every marriage a ceremony into which calamity will fall and hearts will be broken and lives destroyed and people branded by the mortifications of love? ” 17 likes
“What kind of woman was she? What kind of woman was it who called to me from that calamity on the Seventh Avenue line? What kind of woman do I love now, with a fealty that will not cease, not till my occluded arteries send their clots up to the spongy interiors in my skull and I go mute and slack? I love the kind of woman whose hair has gone gray in a not terribly flattering way, the kind who doesn't even notice how she has to keeps having to buy larger jeans, the kind who likes big cars because she doesn't like to be uncomfortable. I love this woman because she is gifted with astounding premonitory skills: no matter how uncertain, how despondent, how lost her mate feels, no matter how dire the circumstances, she nonetheless predicts that Everything will be roses.” 2 likes
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