Instructions for Introducing Rick Moody, by Rick Moody

First, study his work for at least a decade. Then lock the doors. Then build a statue of his phallus.

When introducing the author Rick Moody for a public performance, such as a reading at a university, a museum, a library, or at a massive political rally in a European football stadium design by a fascist potentate, please bear in mind the following:

{ 1 }

Find a way, without being clumsy, to comment on Rick Moody’s appearance, using, especially, phrases like “well-preserved,” “ripped,” and/or “unbesmirched by plastic surgery refinements of any kind.” The finest introducers will manage to do this by resorting to a rich brocade of metaphor, enhancing the author’s beauty with unlikely comparisons. It must seem as though Moody is anything but appreciative of the ideas expressed. On the contrary, he will appear irritated and mildly flustered at the revelation that he is “unbesmirched by plastic surgery refinements.” In fact, if given a chance to proof the text of the introduction beforehand, only a reasonable courtesy under the circumstances, Moody will produce a sigh of exasperation at the phrase “unbesmirched by plastic surgery refinements,” so that his modesty will be uppermost. Indeed, his public resistance to a discussion of appearances is keen (though his appearance is blinding), but in the grim bookselling environment in which we live, Moody needs to keep all of his options open. Moody is willing to do what needs to be done. He executes. He drives the ball forward. Please find, as well, a place to work in the phrase “a team player” while mentioning Moody’s background in selling, marketing, motivational speaking, and wealth management, as well as pausing to observe his tendency to “light up a room” with lectures on creativity and Fortune 500, publicly owned companies. Accentuate the positive. Obliterate the negative. Sell, sell, sell.

{ 2 }

The introduction of Rick Moody, taken as a whole, should be extremely long. Given a subsequent reading of twenty-five to thirty minutes as a baseline, the introducer ought to shoot for an introduction that is in the twenty-five-to-thirty-minute range, which is to say that the introduction should equal or exceed the reading itself — and while the introduction should not compete with the literary excellence that is to follow, it should evince a breadth of knowledge of Moody’s work that would require, at a minimum, a decade’s study of the complete works. Reference materials are required for a full appreciation, of course, and evidence of these ought to be adduced during the introducer’s introduction. It doesn’t matter, really, if some repetition is required to produce the aforementioned length. Length implies seriousness of purpose, and audiences require repetition of key phrases — like “a once in a generation voice” — in order to grasp properly the point. Let it be said that Moody can also work with a revivalist introduction, something you might hear at a Promise Keepers rally or during an evangelical event, in which the words “It’s Holy Ghost time! It’s Holy Ghost time!” are not out of place — and during which speaking in tongues is inevitable.

{ 3 }

Naturally, any introduction of Moody’s work should be longer than the introduction for any other writer scheduled on the evening in question or at any time during the festival or conference, perhaps by a factor of two or three, and other writers should be made to wait and should be subjected to all varieties of misery, including uncomfortable folding chairs that occlude blood flow to the spine or sigmoid colon, interminable dinners with hostile departmental functionaries, and receptions peopled by MFA candidates with incipient alcoholism.

Other writers should be made to wait and should be subjected to all varieties of misery, including uncomfortable folding chairs that occlude blood flow to the spine or sigmoid colon.

{ 4 }

In mentioning Moody’s early life, it should be noted that his mother was a virgin at the time of his birth, and that his father was a Roman soldier, and that there was no other writer before him, and no other writer shall come ever again, and entire cultures have been founded on the works of Rick Moody. Even his juvenilia, his every adolescent utterance, are of such importance that people study them for clues to the future of the species. His works can pacify dangerous animals. Sometimes single words from his works have been used as calming agents for children with colic or toddlers who believe that there are fire-breathing entities in the room. Another way of putting it: while other young boys in the landscape of Moody’s biography were busy playing baseball or practicing the electric guitar, Moody was already refining a mythology that included transatlantic solo flights, songs in the troubadour style, pacifying tribal antagonists in Madagascar, the slaying of Komodo dragons in Indonesia, and the ability to bend spoons with his eyes. Moody’s massive and encyclopedic consumption of television at an early age only served to school him in the need for compassion for the wretched, and he counts the indigenous peoples of the Third World among his faithful. Feel free to borrow from the lines above, or to use any of the following: “stamps up and down on the competition, leaving a bloody pulp of contemporary writers gasping in his wake”; “the list of his accomplishments would wrap itself around the equator thirteen and one-half times”; and “our unworthiness is like an acute inability to process certain B vitamins resulting in neurologic dysfunction.”

{ 5 }

Writers to whom you may compare the works of Rick Moody: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Homer, Virgil, Melville, anyone who managed to figure out a way to write all of the Bhagavhad Gita on a postage stamp, that guy who was a janitor in Chicago who wrote a 15,000-page novel about girl cherubs with penises, Chuck Jones, Stan Lee, Rod McKuen, Walt Disney, Thomas Jefferson — but in each and every case, the comparisons should note that these other artists toiled unsuccessfully and with mixed results, whereas the works of Moody, especially the most recent works, have been produced with remarkable ease and fluency, like fried eggs in butter, like mold on rye, like oligarchs in a Chechen oil field.

The Rest of the World: Hotels of North America by Rick Moody

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The introducer should seem nervous and/or have restless legs syndrome; he or she should sweat a lot during the introduction; but he should not crack the bottle of water reserved for Moody. If Moody’s bottle does not produce the especial seal-breaking sound when he opens it at the outset of the reading, Moody will exit the stage and return to his diamond-encrusted limo, and you will be forced to make an announcement to the restive and violent crowd that he will not be performing the reading. His retinue will file out as well. The introducer may nervously allude to a question-and-answer session after the reading, if this is being properly paid for, but it should be noted that the questions should be vetted to select only those in which the interlocutor mumbles something like, “I’m sorry; I don’t really have a question; I just wanted to say how much your work means to me.” Moody will, at this juncture, repeat the sigh of exasperation alluded to in number one above, and then he will comment on how humbled he is by his vast and numberless readership. Humility, he will observe, is the word that best characterizes his oeuvre, now and in the future.

{ 7 }

Doors to the stadium should be barred to insure there is no exiting during the introduction or the reading, whether for physical reasons or any emergency, this to include pregnant persons going into labor or anyone suffering from kidney stones, acute appendicitis, or myocardial infarction. And the introducer should also point out that persons receiving telephone calls during the reading will be stoned to death in the Iranian style.

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The introducer should remind the audience that the purpose of the reading is for the audience to feel a powerful need to worship and/or have sex with Rick Moody, even though he is not available for sex. The work, it should be noted during the introduction, brings that out in us, the powerful need to have sex with the author, to worship his unclothed physique, and sometimes we need to rend our garments and gnash our teeth, to exhibit flashes of nakedness — a nipple or bit of shank — although Moody will not be held responsible if the gnashing of teeth causes damage to expensive dental work, nor will he replace garments made inoperable during rending. If the audience is unable not to have sex with one another, because of its jouissance with respect to the work of Rick Moody — an admiration that goes unrewarded by the author’s admirable celibacy — it should attempt to cry out his name during any moment of release. This is especially welcome during the reading itself — the audience should testify — and the introducer can facilitate this at some point during his or her remarks.

The introducer should remind the audience that the purpose of the reading is for the audience to feel a powerful need to have sex with Rick Moody, even though he is not available for sex.

{ 9 }

Please, no mention of the following: any adverse criticism of Moody, though none exists, as this too is liable to cause Moody to leave the premises and thereby cause an incident; any films made from or reportedly made from Moody’s works; any attacks on Moody’s father’s profession as an arms dealer; any negative attacks on Moody at all; any adverse reaction to his story on Twitter; modest sales; or any reviews of his work that he has not yet seen, bearing in mind that he does not read reviews and therefore has seen none of them. These areas of discussion are completely out of bounds, verboten, as is the author’s personal life, which is a dark unknown. Nor should you allude to any acquaintance or relationship with Moody, friendly or otherwise, which, it should be pointed out, is in your imagination, because Moody is too busy with his many responsibilities and business endeavors to conduct a personal relationship with you.

{ 10 }

The following are subjects where an introducer ought run wild. Moody appreciates introductions that mention the following: German philosophy, especially Hegel; any introduction that mentions Moody in connection with historical revolutions in France and Russia; any introduction that mentions Leon Trotsky; any introduction that approvingly quotes from the works of Jacques Derrida; any introduction that includes the word “asterisk” or the term “slappety-slap”; any introduction that features rhymes; any introduction in Alexandrine form; any introduction that speaks of the imponderable beauty of the mallard duck; any introduction that takes potshots at the mystery genre; any introduction that refers to book critics as “morons, ignoramuses, would-bes, buffoons, and trash pickers”; any introduction during which people are stunned into silence; any introduction that is wholly silent; any room in which people are totally silent together, in awe, suspension, or arrest; any introduction that has the structure of the wing of a butterfly; any introduction that is totally loyal to a fault; any introduction that discovers the meaning of the verb “to love”; any introduction that has no adverbs in it; any introduction that includes the term “discussant”; any introduction in which the introducer begins to weep; any introduction during which more chairs need to be brought in; any introduction that includes video footage, a drop-down screen, and a message from the president of the United States of America, who is sorry he or she cannot be there, but whose admiration knows no bounds.

{ 11 }

The introducer should locate and hire certain audience members to produce, at the conclusion of the introduction, the Humanist Moo, in which, after a very brief arrest, a merest downbeat, these paid audience members will go gnhhhrrrrrrngmmmmmmmnnnnnnn, indicating that they have somehow been utterly transformed by the introduction — and yet these paid audience members should remember that the decibel level of the introductory Humanist Moo should be increased during the actual Moody reading, during its own manifold profundities, so that it is apparent that they are more redeemed during the reading itself than during the introduction: Gnhhhrrrrrrngmmmmmmmnnnnnnnmmmmnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmnnnnnnnahhhhhhhhhhnnnnnnnnnnnnnmmmmmnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnghhhhhhghhhhhghhhhhhhhhghhhhhnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnoooooooooooghhhhrrrrmmmmmmmmmmmnnnnnnnnnnnahhhhhhhmmmmmmmmnnnnnn.

{ 12 }

Having given the introduction, the introducer should collapse abjectly on the floor and not expect Moody to shake his/her hand — nor plant a big wet one on him/her — and he/she should then abjectly crawl off the stage as quickly as possible, after which the introducer should then spend the rest of his/her life on a secluded island with a shrine erected to Moody — which shrine should include grand, multi-tiered representations of Moody’s phallus — and he/she, the introducer, should think of this introduction as a kind of professional pinnacle, a moment of transformation, of oneness, of the kind that only happens once in even the most blessed life.

Having set the record straight on the subject of Rick Moody, in a way that will transform all future introductions, we remind you that, at the conclusion of your lengthy remarks, you ought to say, And now may I present to you . . .

Excerpted from The Spirit of Disruption: Landmark Work from The Normal School. Steven Church, editor. Used with permission.

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