Rick Moody wants you to know that he knows. He knows that he has a reputation as 'out of control and somewhat mentally ill.' He knows that in his first marriage he 'reproduced many of the features of the bad writerly marriages' he knew about 'from reading all the biographies.' He knows that he has spent a good portion of his adult life on 'a spree of self-centeredness, moral fuzziness and destructive sexual abandon.' Alas, what Rick Moody doesn’t know is that his self-awareness is all too limited, that in this memoir he has relayed a story so devoid of insight and full of ego it’s essentially mummified ... It’s true that Moody...had a tumultuous year, that the pain he endured sounds heavy. But The Long Accomplishment seems likely to prove most interesting only to Rick Moody, since it is largely interested only in Rick Moody, despite the fact that the calamities he discusses largely happen to the women around him ... In this memoir about his own suffering, Moody often dwells on the experiences of women who aren’t allowed to have their own say. His own stake in these difficulties and tragedies isn’t enough to help this rambling monologue achieve liftoff ... It’s wonderful that he got all this out of his system and onto the page, but it’s a shame he felt the need to share it with the rest of us.
The memoir is spiritual. Moody is a minister and a life coach, and he believes that intercessory prayer can alter the perception of the observer and can create a sense of calm and community because sharing trouble lessens it. Moody is also laugh-out-loud hilarious, even as he explains sperm donation for IVF ... Digressions are part of the book’s deep appeal because they underscore the feeling that there really is a person pouring out his heart and soul to you from across a table, remembering the things that are important to him and exploring them so they become important to you as well ... Writing, Moody says, isn’t about jockeying for fame, or one-upmanship or posturing. It’s about shutting 'the f– up and doing your job.' But Moody, in this moving, funny, hauntingly brilliant memoir about his marriage, has done more than just that, 'bending the narrative of their life’s journey in this direction of love.' And what is more full of grace than that?
At turns frustrating and fulfilling, linear and digressive, mundane and profound, Rick Moody’s memoir The Long Accomplishment turns a typical 'year in the life' story into a literary look at love and loss in the life of an artist ... How involving readers will find the telling of Rick Moody’s personal tale will likely depend on their patience with a writing style that seems to try to put something like the writer’s actual thought process on paper. Mr. Moody will flat-out explain his need to insert backstory into the middle of a tale, wind through a variety of possible explanations for a feeling or reaction, dig deep into personal interests such as music and the work of other authors. He also luxuriates in language ... While undoubtedly a personal tale, especially given the appearance of the word 'memoir' in the book’s subtitle, the story initially suffers from a lack of character development of Mr. Moody’s partner. Laurel Nakadate is always there, and integral to nearly all the events detailed, but she only starts to feel visible and relatable toward the story’s end ... If only Mr. Moody offered more of her soulfulness as easily as he describes her photographic work or struggles through medical procedures ... sometimes confounding, but ultimately rewarding, reading.
The events are rendered in Moody’s signature style: long, complex sentences, rooted in ideas and philosophy, wending their way across the page. The style, however, creates a distance that readers might initially find off-putting: Moody feels detached from the events of his own life, analytical, rather than emotional. It becomes clear, soon enough, that this approach is the book’s great strength: the analytic distance is necessary to keep the events of that year from overwhelming the reader. The final pages are very nearly overwhelming, even with that distance; without it, the book would be unbearable ... At the core of The Long Accomplishment is an exploration of an impressive relationship, neither idealized nor idyllic, but a mature, mutually-supportive partnership.
Moody balances this emotional adversity with poignant digressions regarding his involvement with a 'theatrical entity' that designs productions for an audience of one and his shrewd yet entertaining observations of his Brooklyn neighbors. Moody’s sheer delight with language and his clever turns of phrase hint at a sense of wonder and hope, while his Knausgaardian introspection leaves him contemplating the intersection of fate and magic, recognizing that good fortune seems preordained while transcending tragedy requires something magical, namely, the power of love.
Moody eloquently documents the ordeal of in vitro fertilization, particularly the male side of it ... Similarly, those who have had to deal with extremely entitled neighbors, those who have watched a beloved person descend into senility, those who have seen their guitar for sale on eBay: all may find comfort here ... There are some annoying things about this book, to be sure. Moody has numerous talented and well-known friends, and there is nothing he loves more than to name them and sing their praises. At the top of the list is his wife, who entered his life after a bad first marriage and a long series of hookups. He truly cannot shut up about her. There are moments when this is touching and inspiring and others when it is just too much. The peak of the too-muchness comes in a three-page section where he analyzes their artistic influences on each other. This should have been left for someone’s doctoral dissertation, preferably someone other than the author ... Moody was brave to venture into these waters again, but according to the epilogue, trouble made him do it. And while it’s not likely that The Long Accomplishment will join the all-stars mentioned above, it is a worthy addition to this year’s crop of woe catalogs. May it help us all avoid trouble next time it comes around.
... touching ... Moody weaves in other tales of hardship that sometimes slow the narrative ... Despite the digressions, this is a revealing, intimate memoir—and a moving love letter from Moody to his wife.
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 experience ... An intermittently insightful but narrowly focused examination of a marriage that will mostly interest devoted Moody fans.