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The Crandall we meet in the introduction to Four Fingers sounds as serious as the Moody many people know, the creator of such austere studies of suburban malaise like The Ice Storm and Purple America. This Crandall specializes in distilling his novels down to their essential elements. Then he distills those distillations down even further — and further still until he arrives at diamond-like nuggets of truth. But Crandall doesn’t stop there. No. He goes on and pulverizes those truths even more until all he’s left with is one single sentence: “Go get some eggs, you dwarf.” or “Last one home goes without anesthesia.” This Crandall would probably describe Patton’s passionate reading of Moody’s novel with something like, “My God, he did it!” or “Somebody give that man a scotch.”
Then there’s the Crandall who writes the novelization of the racy remake of The Crawling Hand, a creepy black-and-white B movie from 1963. This Crandall has never met a word or digression he doesn’t love. This Crandall — the bastard child of Tristram Shandy and Moby Dick raised in an ashram by peyote-eating, self-help book-quoting survivalists — revels in the hallucinatory possibility of language. This Crandall would lovingly write page after page about how Patton’s pulsating voice brings the rhythm of Moody’s manic magnum opus to life. Patton reads with gusto Moody’s vision of an America in the not-so-distant future that barely squeaks by and is populated with crackpots, conspiracy theorists, junk scientists, and sex-crazed teenagers who listen to Dead Girlfriend-genre heavy metal. This might sound familiar, except the characters in this novelization of a remake of a movie no one has ever heard of are being terrorized by a powerful, bacteria-infested, perverted four-fingered hand from Mars.
The verbose Crandall would marvel at Patton’s verbal dexterity, his ability to intone the scientific and militaristic techno babble with a straight face one second, then transform his voice into a Valley Girl fashion pop tart or the foul-mouthed son of a Korean scientist desperately trying to reanimate his cryogenically frozen dead wife stored in a refrigerator in his garage.
Yes, Patton pulls it all off, performing The Four Fingers of Death like a one-man Mercury Theater, keeping the audience spellbound as he tells a tale so tall, you smile at the absurdity of it all and anxiously await to hear the next chapter. Because let’s face it. Anything can happen. And that’s part of the absurd, giddy joy of listening to Moody’s latest. —Ken Ross
The Four Fingers of Death is a stunningly inventive, sometimes hilarious, monumental novel. It will delight admirers of comic masterpieces like Slaughterhouse-Five, The Crying of Lot 49, and Catch-22.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Aaron on 12-14-10
Like Pynchon, DF Wallace, PK Dick, Palahniuk?
Then you will probably dig this. If you are looking for your standard "Book 9 in the Adventures of Space Captain Whatever" then skip it. This is what I would call "fatigue lit" - Moody, like the others mentioned, is exhausting and at times waaaaay too clever for his own good. That said, there is far more substance and charming insight to be found here than in, say, William Gibson's last few books combined. Also, the narrator is pitch perfect (including his brief slip around mid way). My advice is to listen to books like this one on double speed - it is too long and exasperating to slog through at standard speed.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
By Jack on 12-07-10
I loved this book!!
I had the same reservations as you, the concept could collapse under its own weight, I don't like my sci-fi coming from lit-fic, etc. but I have a lot of time to kill at my job and it's like 23 hours long so I gambled and WON, this book is a total treat! Sufficiently pulpy, slightly satiricritical (the future here reminded me of Super Sad Love Story) but the novel is ultimately pinned to the aching space of the void. The spacewalk is, at its heart, an ode to lonesomeness. The 'introduction' took some getting through, and of the 2 parts I liked the Mars journey more, it had a very similar feel to Chris Ware's "Seeing Eye dogs of Mars" from Acme #19. And the narrator WAS PERFECT FOR THIS! If you're curious give it a shot. I loved it!!
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Dworkin on 04-11-12
A wonderful book that messes with my mind.
I'm amazed that no-one has yet written a review of the utterly remarkable Four Fingers of Death or rather I was until I tried writing a review myself.
It's kind of impossible to describe except by heaping together a ridiculously long list of adjectives most of which would be, you know, like 'brilliant', 'remarkable' and so on. It's unsettling, unnerving and unlike any book I've read before.It's shocking,hilarious and moving, immersive, emotional and immensly satisfying. So no, I'm not going to review it because I'm not able to do it any sort of justice. I just advise you to read it. Oh yes, and I wasn't going to say this, but right there at the end it also made me cry just a little.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful