The Diviners by Rick Moody

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The Diviners by Rick Moody

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: If you can get beyond the first twelve pages and have a high threshold for indulgent writing there's a good story and memorable characters in this satire on the film industry. The humour is well written and there's a splendid eye for detail, but it can take some finding.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 492 Date: January 2007
Publisher: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 978-0571229475

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Some book reviews write themselves. Some are hard and this one was very hard because I nearly gave up before the end of the first page. It's a skit on the opening credits of a movie. "The light that illuminates the world begins in Los Angeles." You might have other opinions but as the path of the light is tracked down to the bottom of the first page you'll probably have given up thinking. By the time that it's finished the full circuit of the world, twelve pages later, you'll have lost the will to live. A joke's a joke, Mr Moody, but that felt like you were taking the piss. Moody has been called the worst writer of his generation. That opening sequence certainly left me feeling that he was prepared to go to the ends of the earth to prove that he's a contender for the title.

It was November 2000 and the world discovered a new word as Florida counted and recounted the votes in the Bush/Gore Presidential election. Whilst we all discussed the significance of hanging chads the movie business could talk of nothing but the latest hot property. It's called The Diviners an epic mini-series which seems to cover the history of the world, beginning with the Huns in Mongolia and ending with a Mormon in the Nevada desert.

There are some wonderful characters in the book though. Larger than life Vanessa Meandro, head of Means of Production, is addicted to doughnuts. She's known as 'Minivan' to her assistant because that's what she looks like. It's not what she acts like, though - she's pure megalomania, but then that's how the head of a small independent production company wanting to make it big has to act. Even the assistant, Annabel Duffy is writing her own screenplay. There's the standard-issue almost-action hero with commitment issues, Thaddeus Griffin and couriers who seem to talk more than they deliver. They're all high on description and observation but low on dialogue.

It's a wonderful satire on the sheer pointlessness of the film industry and there's a depth of knowledge about the interaction of the industry with politics and finance and how it all runs on dishonesty, sex and addiction. There's a rich vein of comedy (sometimes very black) running through the book and it's easy to think that this is a writer of real ability. The trouble was that it was all such damned hard work as I pawed my way through the self-indulgence of pages describing one small incident. I was kept going from gem to gem - and I was pleased that I did because it's a good story - but I confess to finishing the book with a sense that I could now relax.

There were times in the book when I thought I was reading a work of pure genius. The comedy was superb and there's an eye for the details which bring people to life. I just wish that Mr Moody had realised that more is not necessarily better.

My thanks to the publishers for sending this book.

You might also enjoy The Parrots by Filippo Bologna or The Human Part by Kari Hotakainen and Owen F Witesman (translator).

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Buy The Diviners by Rick Moody at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Diviners by Rick Moody at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Diviners by Rick Moody at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Diviners by Rick Moody at


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