This is the most recent novel by Rick Moody, and of the three I’ve read in the last couple of weeks, it’s the one I liked the most. It’s the only one of the three that supports the playfulness of the language in the story and structure of the novel, and it’s the only one for which the voice employed feels remotely “realized”.
There’s not much real plot here, but instead what we’re reading is a series of long reviews of hotels across North America from the mid-1970s through the early 2010s. The reviews themselves last from about a page through several pages and jump around in geographical location and time. There’s a consistency in their posting dates (early 2010s) but not in their time setting (the whole range of the novel). And the reviews themselves sometimes deal with elements of the hotel in question, but overwhelmingly deal with the personal story, tragedies, melodramas, and life of the reviewer himself, posed in the novel as a kind of mystery whom both Rick Moody and the editors of the novel are trying to uncover. It’s written, then, as a kind of found text.
The novel also gets darker and darker through out, while also maintaining a sense of humor. So a late review might go from the narrator texting a prostitute on a hookup website while attending a convention with his wife in one hotel to immediately going on an extended rant against beds and breakfasts in the next.
The totalizing effect is some kind of blend of Nabokov (in a generous reading) especially Pale Fire to more so a Nicholson Baker novel (in a positive, and more realistic reading).