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THE RING OF BRIGHTEST ANGELS AROUND HEAVEN by Rick Moody

THE RING OF BRIGHTEST ANGELS AROUND HEAVEN

By Rick Moody

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 1995
ISBN: 0-316-57929-7
Publisher: Little, Brown

 A debut collection from rising star Moody (The Ice Storm, 1994; Garden State, 1992), who, here, throws together a wild, perverse, and ultimately flat mosaic of contemporary life. The diverse characters who inhabit Moody's landscape seem to have little in common apart from remarkably similar delusions of grandeur. We're shown, in the first of ten stories (``The Preliminary Notes''), the unhappy marriage of a shyster lawyer who spies obsessively on his wife as part of some unexplained scheme to ``fix her ass in court.'' A long and rambling fantasy about James Dean's association with an early '60s rock group serves as the unconvincing pretext behind ``The James Dean Garage Band,'' whereas ``Treatment'' is precisely thatan East Village filmmaker's overwrought cinematic treatment of his own very slack daily routines (``we have been sitting at this table seems like ten minutes but on screen much abbreviated not a word between us Dee the sex goddess awkward and bored and me mute uncertain studying the menu and its arcane Moroccan specials couscous couscous couscous to delay the moment what the fuck are we going to talk about...''). The centerpiece, however, is the title novella, 75- pager (first published in the Paris Review) that follows the fall of three junkies of the Reagan era in a perfect deadpan voice that hints at neither sympathy, judgment, nor comprehension: ``He was from Massapequa, Long Island, and rock and roll had transformed him from a guy from Massapequa into a person with charm....And the son, the son of this wealthy broker, was shooting dope and living in some rundown East Village apartment with nothing in it but a futon and a CD player. This kind of life gave the band with no name a lot of credibility.'' It's all vivid and well-drawn, but the obscurity of the narrator's own attitude toward his subjects turns the work into a prolonged immersion in squalor. Pointless, unfocused, and needlessly sordid overall.