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AN INTERVIEW WITH RICK MOODY RICK MOODY Rick Moody has published two short-story collections, The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven and Demonology, along with three novels: Garden State, The Ice Storm and Purple America. Anonfiction book, 77k Black Veil, is forthcoming. His awards include the Pushcart Press Editor's Choice Award, the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Guggenheim Fellowship. This interview was conducted by Randall Fuller in August 2000. Fuller is Assistant Professor of English at Drury University. He is currently at work on a novel. An Interview with Rick Moody/Randall Fuller Interviewer: More than many writers, you seem unwilling to repeat yourself. Tm thinking of the formal experimentation in your work as weU as the thematic diversity. Moody: I was educated as a writer by the experimental writers of the '60s and '70s: John Hawkes, Angela Carter, Robert Coover, et cetera. They made range and ambition central to their mission. No Robert Coover novel, for example, is much like any other. Since that was the work I first loved, during the period when I was reaUy falling in love with literature, it was natural to me to try to work that way myself. By the time of Ring of Brightest Angels, I was pretty much determined to keep experimenting. The only anxiety was if anyone would want to read so much diversity. Our culture in general seems to prefer that its artists stick to one thing, but so far I have gotten bored easily. Lately, I have been thinking of Pete Townshend's famous remark about why he smashed his first guitar during a performance of "My Generation." He said something like, "I heard music in my head that I couldn't play." That was the case with me in my early work. I had things I wanted to say, material I wanted to deal with, but I just wasn't up to writing about these things yet. With more confidence and more understanding of voice, these ambitions came within reach. Although now I try to let the prose dictate the subject matter, and not vice versa. So it's not a question of subject matter; it's a question of style. The subject matter is dictated in part by my subconscious, and I don't care to force it to behave one way or another. Interviewer: Could you say more about your developing sense of vocation as a writer? Moody: I never reaUy thought of it as a vocation until after I was already doing it. I wrote things down weU back into my chUdhood, aU The Missouri Review · 81 the way into the single digits, in fact, and though I didn't finish much until my late teens, my interest has been the same throughout my writing life: language. Even in graduate school, when I had a sense that I wasn't making stories in the realistic style Uke many of my friends (it was during the height of Carver's influence), I rarely thought of writing vocationally. I figured I would be neglected, and that didn't seem all that bad. Better to write for the sheer pleasure of it than with professional ambitions. It was only after The Ice Storm came out (the book, not the movie) that I ever thought of writing as my profession. But it's the kiss of death, in a way, to think of yourself as a "professional." I don't want a career. I would like to die having written a number of books and let that be my epitaph: Here lies a guy who wrote a number of books. Interviewer: That's quite a juxtaposition between an austere epitaph and your background. You are someone who is in many ways privileged , yet you seem uninterested in aU that. Moody: If by privilege you mean my class background, well, yeah. It's not something I really like to draw attention to—in fact, it makes me pretty uncomfortable—but by the same token, it's indisputable. I don't think about class too much because, contrary to the perception of some, I haven't professionally benefited by the...


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