The acclaimed writer reflects on the hardships he and his second wife endured during their first year of marriage.
Readers familiar with Moody’s (Hotels of North America, 2015, etc.) fiction, especially The Ice Storm, will be drawn to this memoir about the complicated arenas of love and marriage. The opening lines are attention grabbing: “In order to have a second marriage you can believe in you may have to fail at your first marriage. I failed spectacularly at mine.” He goes on to vividly recount the events that triggered his “spectacular failure,” specifically his extramarital relationships, which led to divorce. By the time he met visual artist Laurel Nakadate, the author was approaching his 50s. Having shared some of his past emotional baggage, he assures readers that he is ready to pursue a fully committed relationship, and his month-by-month narrative initially seems to prove his conviction. Moody has a seasoned eye for capturing intriguing details and nuance in a variety of settings, and he brilliantly highlights the competitively hip Park Slope, Brooklyn, arts scene. Yet his story is rambling and often digressive, and as a document of his marriage, it feels surprisingly self-absorbed. Moody writes affectionately of his new wife and continually praises her talent, but he fails to bring Laurel into focus as a fully fleshed-out individual. Her suffering is tangible, primarily in her efforts to make it through a full-term pregnancy, but her presence is peripheral to the deeper internal struggle the author experiences. Dying parents and friends, infertility issues, and a household robbery are among the events they faced in their first year together. “Total up some of the hardships, reader, and ask yourself how we could possibly continue,” writes Moody. All of these are difficult challenges but ones that are not uncommon (other than the robbery) for someone in their 50s. The author ends on a positive note as the couple seems to have achieved a longed-for contentment.
An intermittently insightful but narrowly focused examination of a marriage that will mostly interest devoted Moody fans.