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.