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The Ice Storm

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  5,405 ratings  ·  414 reviews
The year is 1973. As a freak winter storm bears down on an exclusive, affluent suburb in Connecticut, cars skid out of control, men and women swap partners, and their children experiment with sex, drugs, and even suicide. Here two families, the Hoods and the Williamses, come face-to-face with the seething emotions behind the well-clipped lawns of their lives - in a novel w ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 10th 2002 by Back Bay Books (first published 1994)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  5,405 ratings  ·  414 reviews

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Reading Road Trip 2020

Current location: Connecticut

No one believes in the weather anymore.

As I entered the state of Connecticut, the weather report was bad. The entire region was about to experience a thirty year storm, a deadly combination of sleet then snow then freezing temperatures that would top off the roads like popsicles. Residents and drivers were cautioned to stay home, so I promptly pulled into the nearest hotel to hunker down with my blanket and my book.

Unfortunately, the residents o
Oct 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
It tries hard to be clever but the language carries a heavy & pompous aroma. Instead of it being cold, sad and brilliant, it is too insider-y, too ordinary a tale and almost overly faulty. It was written... why? That countless times the author tries to tie in the family drama with the strangeness of the times (1973), & fails, pretty much destroys its entire purpose, whatever that may have been and was not.

Yes, there is a tragedy (and when it comes to these dramadies, when doesn't that happen?) i
Jan 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
The American literati bristled last year when one of the Nobel Prize bigwigs said the country’s writers were too entangled with their own mass culture to get close to a new Nobel in Literature. I don’t think that’s entirely true, but after reading "The Ice Storm" I have to say I suspect the Swedish bigwig was reading Rick Moody.

Not that I didn’t like the book. But having been alive and fully conscious in the 1970’s, I knew the dozens of TV shows and pop songs Moody referenced. To be honest, the
Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Fucking family. Feeble and forlorn and floundering and foolish and frustrating and functional and sad, sad. Fucking family. Fiend or foe.

Likely Ang Lee's film remains superior. The struggle is apparent here. One trying to rationalize one's upbringing is always a fool's errand. Moody appears to halt before the warmth. He's perhaps too keen to be clinical.
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, other
An exuberant and dark novel that makes you both laugh and hold your stomach at the detailed and nauseating portrayals of the shame of youth and family. No one is safe in this book, and no one is good. Everything is tinged with either a rot that is unredeemable or a rot that is still in its seedling state. The children will be as rotten as the parents, and the parents seem beyond hope. The culture of the town is hopeless and the only thing that makes it at all uplifting is the sense that this era ...more
David Gillespie
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
On the outset, Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm appears to be a Generation X era relic about what it was like to grow up in the 1970’s. Any serious reader has probably read at least one of these type of stories before; stories chock full of ironic kitsch and facile observations on how screwed up the Me generation were. At the beginning of the novel, Moody lives up to that description, as he sloshes the kitsch with a ladle, with lists of brand names, pop songs, and other period icons so that you can be ...more
Jul 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, smut
Let's play Literary Key Party!

Here's how it goes: everyone plays an author, and then you pick another author's keys and you have to write your story in their style!

For example, if I'm John Fowles and I end up with Jane Austen's keys, I might say
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a young lady to lock in his basement.
Here are some names to get you started:

Jane Austen
Flannery O'Connor
Dorothy Parker
Ayn Rand
Carolyn Kee
3.5 stars.

The Ice Storm was, oftentimes, an incredibly difficult read. Not in terms of structure or writing-style--Moody's writing was often sharp-intake-of-breath-beautiful:

"The sheer, white drapes in the guest room were limp as the bangs of a sad schoolgirl" (5)


"Once his dreams had been songs. He'd been a balladeer of promise and opportunity" (6)

but in the affect it had on me, the reader. Many of the scenes in the book were discomfiting, disturbing, heavily focused on sex acts, and the wo
Mattia Ravasi
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Video review:

The Ice Storm is a tirade on how terrible your life can be when you are WASP and rich and priviledged. It's well written and flows like a wonder, but it is one of those books in which nothing really happens even when people die and everyone is a complete asshole, and if you are looking for one of those, by all means read Franzen's 21st century novels - they are, at least, quite dope - or John Updike's Rabbit novels before turning to this one.
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written. Punchy and witty. The end had a surprising twist I wasn't expecting! ...more
I saw the Ang Lee adaptation of this book a few years back and so was curious about Moody's novel. While the movie was stylized and Twin Peak-ish, it was a tad boring. The novel, on the other hand, was a page turner.

Set during a single 24-hour period in New Canaan Connecticut, 1973, Moody gives us an accurate lay of the land with all the products, projects, and preoccupations of the beginning of Watergate and the end of Viet Nam. I'm the same age as two of the teens in the book, Wendy and Sandy,
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure what I think about this book.

On one hand, Moody has a spellbinding quality about his writing. His voice is quite unique, and from a purely linquistic and literary perspective I found the book quite appealing. Also, I'm always attracted to writers who write about real, unattractive, unwholesome, unheroic people, and I usually enjoy works that are trying to expose the dark underbelly of society.

On the other hand the story seems, I don't know, contrived maybe. I appreciate his commen
M. Sarki
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Marvel Comics never interested me. Nor did the funny pages of the newspaper. But Rick Moody obviously likes comic books and superheroes and uses them to populate an otherwise engaging book about self-realization, sexual experimentation, coming of age, and marital infidelity. Not to mention a host of other notable topics in music, film, and politics from the year 1974.

...Until recently he had believed that the elderly were born that way, unlucky. Now he kn
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction
This was a favorite when I first read it at around age 20. I responded to its cynical view of American suburban life and this dissolution of the nuclear family. I admired its wry take on consumerism and the soulless pop culture of its era, the early 1970s, and its rhetoric influenced a wannabe subversive undergrad pretentiousness that I didn't shake until well into adulthood. In a similar way, its unorthodox stylistic features and narrative structure informed my own half-assed attempts at being ...more
Kali VanBaale
Jan 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
What I love about this book is its unsentimental view of suburban turmoil and discontent--that phrase "all is not what it seems" I love to see played out in literature so much. In some ways, THE ICE STORM feels like it picks up where Richard Yates' classic and brilliant suburban novel REVOLUTIONARY ROAD left off--from the 50's to the early 70's--and in the span of that decade between the two books, adults haven't learned much. One immediate difference with Moody's story though, is that he offers ...more
Dec 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
All in all, I gotta say I'm disappointed. That's why I'm giving this book such a mediocre review- something I rarely do for books. I *loved* this movie. I love how it dealt with these "slice of life" moments in the lives of these four family members, and how they coalesced around their indescretions with a neighbor family. Paul, the son who was least involved in this inter-familial deceit (he lived at boarding school and spent the majority of the book at a friend's apartment far away in New York ...more
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
Maybe this book is too long. Maybe the other reviewers are correct that Rick Moody's scrupulous attention to 70s pop culture overwhelms his ability to tell a good story. Maybe I know, and like, Ang Lee's movie adaptation too well. Whatever the case, my mind wandered an awful lot while I was trying to read The Ice Storm, a book I first admired but didn't like and then didn't admire or like all that much.

Three of my wandering thoughts:

1. The Ice Storm tells the story of a typical day in the life o
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
A strange beast: it's Rabbit Angstrom fanfiction. but sets the pace for Chabon's and Lethem's usage of comic books (and their creators) as some sort of (misguided) universal cultural touchstone.

Was overly creeped out by the key party scene. Doubly so, since TCM Underground was on (low) in the background, featuring Hatchet for the Honeymoon ( ) and a proto-Goblin score ( ) ...a score that seemed (seems) so much mor
Israel Lawton
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
A solid 4.0 stars, but a real personal favorite of mine, so I bestow a 4.5.

I read this book after developing a feverous obsession with Ang Lee's 1997 film adaptation, and was engulfed by this novel as quickly and completely as the film. Moody's prose is readable, personal, humorous and unrelenting, propelling you deeper and deeper in the lives and minds of two suburban families in 1973. The novel aches almost from the get go, eventually crescendoing into a poised but agonizing wail of pain. Tho
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't recall actually reading this but I know that I watched the movie and that I used to live with a copy of this book back when I was actually reading books like all teh time so I'm pretty sure I read it but cannot recall anything, in part because if I actually did read this book, I did not realize that I had seen the film adaptation until much much later, it being one of those sorts of movies one watched in secret ...more
Charles Thompson
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved every word. Had no idea Moody was this good. Will be reading more of him. Very jealous of his talent.
Andrew Shaffer
Dec 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ice ice, baby.
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing

With its pristine, white picket fence image and sometimes hellacious underbelly, the suburban lifestyle easily lends itself to ridicule.

Books (like Jeffrey Eugenides’ “The Virgin Suicides”), films (i.e. “American Beauty”), and television shows (such as “Desperate Housewives” or “Weeds”) have all taken different approaches in dissecting and scrutinizing the inner workings of American middle-to-upper-class neighborhoods. These mediums have followed and even help set a common contention in the Uni
Dec 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Ice Storm by Rick Moody is set in the real town of New Canaan in Fairfield County, Connecticut. A popular home for wealthy commuting New Yorkers since the advent of the railroad in 1868, its population more than doubled between 1950 and 1970 (from 8,001 to 17,451) as a result of its position at the centre of the modern architectural design movement from the late 1940s to the 1960s when a group of Havard students moved to the town and built around 80 to 100 modern homes. Other famous architec ...more
judy-b. judy-b.
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first read The Ice Storm, I had no point of reference for the people and events it portrays. Not until I saw the movie, when I had a little better understanding of the world, did I feel the depth of the social commentary. The first time, these characters were vivid, because they are so pointedly depicted, but not real. Much like Madame Bovary exists in another dimension of time and context, so did these characters, because when I first read it I was too young and too working class.

The '7
Jeff Bottrell
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've had this one on my to-read shelf for over five years - the story of a single New England night in 1973 in which an ice storm descends and changes the lives of a group of mixed-up humans doing their best to make a go of it. Now just to be clear - it isn't all about the storm. The storm just comes along and weaves its way through the plot. Think, perhaps, of the rain of frogs in Magnolia, as a comparison. I didn't make a firm count, but I think we spend time with roughly six characters during ...more
Sep 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american-fiction
Since when do parents leave their teenage children unsupervised at home so they can go out drunk driving in an ice storm? Why would someone host a neighborhood-wide swingers' party on a Thanksgiving weekend?—again—during an ice storm? None of this story makes sense! Moody pushes and pulls characters along bizarrely configured subplots, just to have them in the right place at the right time to converge into an overkill of an ending. The Ang Lee film, adapted from this, is better, though the wind ...more
Jay Gabler
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved the movie — how did it take me so long to discover the book? The book holds up not only because of its clever, tight plotting, but because Moody ties the period setting to the characters’ inner struggles. The Silent Generation adults are enticed by the Summer of Love philosophy that’s trickled down to their Winter of Resentment, while the kids struggle to find their own footing amid confused, quietly angry role models. It’s an unforgiving portrait of a time and a place, but Moody sees hi ...more
Don Roff
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It took me about 20 years to read Rick Moody's THE ICE STORM (I'm a huge fan of the Ang Lee film) and I wasn't disappointed. I loved the 1973 world of New Canaan, Connecticut that Moody reported on, all of the souls living there desperate for some kind of connection and meaning to their suburban lives. This occupies the same kind of world that Richard Yates wrote about in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD decades earlier that inspired the TV show, MAD MEN. After I finished the book, I went into a "book hole" ( ...more
Michael Hughes
Moody is more interested in waxing poetic (sometimes "poetic") than letting his characters speak and think for themselves. Consequently, we don't care about them very much. They aren't allowed to be real in the reader's mind. Moody is always present as an intermediary. And his contempt - for these characters, for their suburban milieu - is exhausting stuff. There isn't much action in The Ice Storm but there is plenty of unseemly poring over shameful sex and the ruins of sad, failed lives. Abando ...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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  If you listen to NPR regularly, you’ve likely heard the voice of Shankar Vedantam, the longtime science correspondent and host of the radio...
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“The past was so past it hurt.” 14 likes
“Words are the oldest information storage and retrieval system ever devised. Words are probably older than the cave paintings in France, words have been here for tens of thousands of years longer than film, moving pictures, video, and digital video, and words will likely be here after those media too. When the electromagnetic pulse comes in the wake of the nuclear blast? Those computers and digital video cameras and videotape recorders that are not melted outright will be plastic and metal husks used to prop open doors. Not so with the utterances of tongues. Words will remain, and the highly complicated and idiosyncratic accounts assembled from them will provide us with the dark news about the blast. The written word will remain, scribbled on collapsed highway overpasses, as a testament to love and rage, as evidence of the wanderers in the ruin.” 10 likes
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