Rick Moody, along with David Foster Wallace, was one of the big reasons I started writing fiction. The first book of his that I read was ‘Purple America.’ The opening pages of ‘Purple America’ are a man describing his mother’s failing body and the methods he employs to care for it in mostly one long run on sentence, post-Ginsberg ‘Kaddish’ style, and it is among the most beautiful openings of a book I can remember. This is an excerpt of the sentence:
“whosoever slips his mother’s panties up her legs and checks the dainty hairless passage into her vulva one more time, because he can’t resist the opportunity here for knowledge, whosoever gags briefly at his own forwardness, whosoever straps his mother’s bra onto her, though the value of a bra for her is negligible, whosoever slips a housedress over her head, getting first one arm and then the other tangled in the neck hole,”
etc etc. I realize more and more looking back how much I learned from Moody’s poetic listmaking devices and explorative thinking set in prose in the same way that I learned from DFW, but differently. Moody is a different beast, more florid in a certain way and more in a poetic mode, but the way he constructs these monsters of increasing awareness and tenor, I don’t know, they definitely have been important to me.