Rick Moody Sings Like an Angel…

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1. Rick Moody likes my shirt! 2. John and Leah, Moody fans, proudly display the insert from their fresh vinyl.

… and he belted it a cappella from the basement of a bookstore in Brooklyn on Wednesday night. Celebrating the paperback release of The Four Fingers of Death, his newest novel (which features a talking chimp, a widower, the planet Mars and a severed hand), Moody fanboys and girls gathered at Word in Greenpoint to hear him read some stuff, sing a bit, and talk about hardcore sludge bands.

By reading a particularly poetic section, the novelist bared his tender side in an effort to show people that he is “not an asshole.” This part of the book has a character repeating the phrase “Or the stars in the night sky were…” to keep the rhythm and explicate all the things he’s feeling, in a way that is almost Ginsbergian.

1. Moody serenades the crowd with anti-love ballad. 2. Eric and Jenny enjoyed the reading. We talked about Moody’s Twitter story, which was published in our third issue.

Moody kept it tender, coming out from behind his podium to grab a guitar and sit on a stool. First, clutching the silent guitar, he sang a ditty with a country twang that had lyrics about a boy on the railroad tracks. I caught a few fans breathing deep and closing their eyes in profound meditation to no doubt immerse themselves in a scene from O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Then, to complete his characteristic mesh of tragedy and comedy, Moody sang “Never Ever Fall,” a melancholy warning to would-be lovers. One crowd member commented that Moody has such a great singing voice and he wouldn’t have expected that, what with all of Moody’s self-deprecation, but I think the combo makes sense.

1. The lovely Jenn Northington, event manager at Word. 2. Andrew Wendel, artist, musician and college buddy of Rick Moody, hands me his card. His band played with Husker Du! This guy is pretty cool.

Someone asked if Moody thought anything about “geek culture,” seeing as how he wrote a novel from the point of view of a writer attempting the novelization of B-movie horror flick, The Crawling Hand. As nerd-boners raised across the room, Moody responded with a puzzled look, saying, “Is that a thing?” Then he talked about The Sex Pistols and wearing all black in the seventies.

I asked what other hardcore bands he was into. The Queers was one, as well as the drone metal band Earth. He then denounced the use of drum machines, unless they are crappy, and spoke about the book he is now working on — a collection of essays on music, including praise for The Magnetic Fields and chastisement of Depeche Mode.

When I went to get my copy of Fingers signed, Moody complimented me on my Great Gatsby T-shirt, but unfortunately found out that I only wore it to look cool at a book reading. We both agreed, however, that the last couple pages of the classic are pretty good.

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— Jesse Katz is a born-and-bred New York City writer and musician. He edits the local monthly zine, Having a Whiskey Coke With You.

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