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THE ICE STORM by Rick Moody


by Rick Moody

Pub Date: May 4th, 1994
ISBN: 0-316-57921-1
Publisher: Little, Brown

 In 1973, a decaying suburban Connecticut family has a bad day. Father Benjamin Hood is a middle-aged alcoholic, tormented by canker sores, in danger of losing his job as a media and entertainment expert for a high-end brokerage house, and having an affair with a neighbor named Janey. His wife, Elena, is cold and distant, even though she gets a kick reading about impotence in Masters and Johnson and believes herself ``capable of abandon.'' Fourteen-year-old Wendy Hood's raging hormones and desire to break out lead to dry humping in basements and graveyards and a daring public display with a girlfriend at a slumber party. Older brother Paul, relegated to boarding school, gets stoned and compulsively follows the comic book capers of the Fantastic Four. On this fateful day, Janey disappears in the middle of her afternoon rendezvous with Benjamin to do some shopping; Benjamin catches Wendy and Janey's son Mike going at it; Elena confronts Benjamin about his infidelity; Benjamin and Elena find themselves at a neighborhood key party (a '60s tradition that migrated belatedly to suburbia whereby men toss their keys in a bowl at the beginning of the night and at the end of the night the women randomly select a set and go off with its owner); Janey purposely shies away from the Hood key ring; Benjamin passes out on the bathroom floor; Elena goes off with Janey's husband; Wendy wanders over to Mike's house and seduces his younger brother Sandy because Mike isn't around; Paul makes an unsuccessful play for the woman of his dreams with alcohol and drugs; and matters only get worse because a vicious northeaster rages outside. Moody (Garden State, 1992) masterfully captures suburban angst through lucid detail. But his characters lack substance so that we don't care what happens to them, and in the end, it seems, neither do they. Too cold.