Digressing With Rick Moody

Rick Moody’s novel, The Ice Storm, was famously optioned and turned into a movie starring Kevin Klein and Sigourney Weaver. I asked Rick during the course of this podcast whether this changed his life, and his answer was surprising — and candid. The short answer is, “yes,” but not exactly in the way you’d think.

Not to give it all away, but unlike many rock stars (and writers and rock-star writers) who have a huge hit that sort of defines them and their careers, Rick doesn’t mind the attention that novel receives. It put him on the map, after all, and it also gave him credit and license to experiment in ways that might not be afforded less commercially successful versions of Rick Moody.

Rick and I met in graduate school where we spent a semester together. We’ve managed to stay in touch over many, many years, although our lives took us in different directions. But he was someone that, from the moment I met him, I felt was, if not destined for greatness, certainly a unique mind and an unquestionable talent.

He also seemed to be one of those rare people who are better humans than they give themselves credit for being.

There is a sweetness and sincerity to Rick that is a little unexpected coming from someone with a tongue capable of being as acerbic as he can be. I can’t thank him enough for being so generous with his time as to spend time doing this podcast..

During the podcast, we talk about the importance of developing writing habits in order to thwart everything and everyone in the world that seems to have as a mission to get right damn between the writer and her work. That includes other writers who want to have a drink or dinner, the people in our lives that we love, the teams we root for, and — did I mention? — the people we love.

Rick also talked about the idea of writers and audiences, social networks, of avoiding intrusive literary influences, and the manifestation of spirituality in work that isn’t overtly spiritual. 

One thing that stuck out to me when I asked Rick to talk about the “marketing/who is your audience?” aspect of the work: “I think of what Don Delillo said, that I have no idea of audience, but I have an idea of standards.”

That seems like a modern rephrasing of Ezra Pound’s bitter retort to those who complained that his literary references were too obscure for most readers, which I can’t find but which was something along the lines of “do you expect me to know how much or how little you know and write to that level?”

I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with Rick Moody, and I hope you do as well.

Rick’s most recent book is The Long Accomplishment: A Memoir of Hope and Struggle in Matrimony, out from Macmillan.

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