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January 13, 2016

Hotels of America, by Rick Moody

hotelsReviewed by Kerry, Toronto Canada. Rated 3 out of 5 stars I bought a copy of Hotels of North America, by Rick Moody, because I was intrigued by the idea of a novel comprising online hotel reviews. I am not being facetious when I write that online hotel reviews are actually one of my favourite kinds of literature, and I have passed many an hour reading aloud ones written by English people, who tend to be very cranky and have strong feelings about the temperature of toast. And part of the reason I love these reviews so much is because of the narrative one senses beneath those few hundred words, the rage and fury that bubbles to the surface, the idea one gets of what the writer left behind as he embarked on his disappointing getaway. And the narrative, rather than the hotel amenities, is what Moody’s Morse—a prolific and popular reviewer—focuses on, the reviews themselves posted in alphabetical order but referring to hotel visits spread over decades of Morse’s curious and mysterious life (which has lately been particularly peripatetic). Usually the hotel itself merely serves as a platform for Morse launching into an episode from his past, involving his broken marriage, a troubling love affair, his itinerant work as a motivational speaker, the various schemes he’s embarked upon with his current partner, K. Some of these episodes are funny, and more than once I laughed out loud. A few are poignant, and each piece is a thoroughly worthwhile vignette. Cumulatively though, the novel lacked momentum—strange for a novel about travel, although the problem is that Morse never gets anywhere. So that I’d put the book down and not be compelled to pick it up again, though I was happy enough once I had done so. And while I am not sorry I read this book, and I’d recommend it to interested readers on the basis of Moody’s writing, I will probably not read it again. Was this review helpful?

One thought on “Hotels of America, by Rick Moody”

  1. Theresa says:

    I have this on my bedside table. I don’t quite know what to make of it, a few pages in, just as I never know quite what to make of the habit of looking up reviews of hotels on multiple sites when planning trips. People look for such strange solace — yes, the temperature of toast! Not the scent of saffron, the presence of cats, the general dark perfection of the coffee in the room…

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