Review: Hotels of North America by Rick Moody

hotels of north america.jpgThe idea of the review as art form is, of course, intriguing to me as a writer of reviews. Anyone can do it – simply go on Amazon, Yelp, or numerous other sites and type away your opinion on a product, restaurant, airline, etc. Most are banal accounts of the user’s experience with said product or service. Strictly forgettable. (Well, not my book reviews, of course! Ha! Ahem.)

But then sometimes, it takes on a life of its own. See, for example, the banana slicer or sugar-free gummy bear reviews. Some of these are so well written that I would pay to read more from the reviewer.

Hotels of North America is a cleverly-constructed novel told through the narrator, Reginald E. Morse, as he writes online reviews for various hotels in which he has stayed. The reviews are non-chronological, and serve more to tell his story than anything about the hotel.

All of his reviews are witty, self-deprecating, sometimes harsh bits of his life as his marriage falls apart, he meets K., and he navigates the country (and Italy several times) as a “motivational speaker.” One gets the impression that he’s not much of a speaker and more of a snake oil salesman, but he seems to get by in life. Moody writing as Morse gives us all something we recognize, either in ourselves or in life on the road … the “smoove” music of hotel lobbies, the shady areas of town where drug dealers hang out, having unbelievable pangs of separation grief over a child, sensing the exact moment your marriage hit the skids, etc.

I’m not sure why Moody chose to list these reviews in random order; I don’t know if going back and reading them chronologically would do anything to change the way the novel reads. That’s something I will leave for a smart person to do.

I’m intrigued by Moody’s writing style and may just seek out other novels he has written. He might be another one of these writers that can be enjoyed by intellectuals and shallow , basic bitches like me.

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