The Four Fingers of Death

The Four Fingers of Death

by Rick Moody

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Montese Crandall is a downtrodden writer whose rare collection of baseball cards won't sustain him, financially or emotionally, through the grave illness of his wife. Luckily, he swindles himself a job churning out a novelization of the 2025 remake of a 1963 horror classic, "The Crawling Hand." Crandall tells therein of the United States, in a bid to regain global eminence, launching at last its doomed manned mission to the desolation of Mars. Three space pods with nine Americans on board travel three months, expecting to spend three years as the planet's first colonists. When a secret mission to retrieve a flesh-eating bacterium for use in bio-warfare is uncovered, mayhem ensues.

Only a lonely human arm (missing its middle finger) returns to earth, crash-landing in the vast Sonoran Desert of Arizona. The arm may hold the secret to reanimation or it may simply be an infectious killing machine. In the ensuing days, it crawls through the heartbroken wasteland of a civilization at its breaking point, economically and culturally--a dystopia of lowlife, emigration from America, and laughable lifestyle alternatives.

The Four Fingers of Death is a stunningly inventive, sometimes hilarious, monumental novel. It will delight admirers of comic masterpieces like Slaughterhouse-Five, The Crying of Lot 49, and Catch-22.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316088909
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 07/28/2010
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Rick Moody (1961) is an American author of novels and short stories best known for his 1994 novel The Ice Storm, a chronicle of the dissolution of two families over one long holiday weekend. An instant bestseller, it was later adapted into a film of the same name. His first book Garden State was published in 1992. His later works include The Diviners and The Four Fingers of Death. In 1999 he was designated by The New Yorker as one of 20 Writers for the 21st Century.


New York, NY

Date of Birth:

October 18, 1961


B.A., Brown University, 1983; M.F.A., Columbia University, 1986

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The Four Fingers of Death 2.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
jasonpettus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)So to understand why I found Rick Moody's newest novel so f-cking deplorable, it's important to understand that buried right in the middle of it is a really great, non-ironic science-fiction novel -- set in 2025, it's about a fully downfalling America trying for one last grab at greatness, by finally launching a fabled manned mission to Mars like George W. Bush announced in the years following 9/11; but the same things that have caused America's downfall also turn the mission into a complete disaster (badly designed hardware, ill-trained astronauts, corrupt supervisors, and a corporate mindset overseeing it all), making it a brilliant metaphorical look at what exactly is wrong with the US here in the 21st century, a short but powerful wallop of a book that would've easily garnered a Hugo win if released on its own. But unfortunately, Moody also includes an entire other half, an entire other 300-page cheesy horror tale about how the disconnected but fully alive arm of one of these astronauts (infected with alien bacteria!) makes it back to Earth and goes on a killing spree in the Arizona desert; then he adds this whole bit about how the entire story is supposed to be a novelization of a witty late-21st-century remake of a cheesy 1963 drive-in horror flick; and then he adds this ridiculously pointless introduction, intermission and coda about the guy actually writing this supposed novelization of the witty horror-flick remake, making the whole thing a snotty meta-meta-metafictional project about stories within stories within stories; and then on top of everything else, he writes the entire 700-page trainwreck in this overly cutesy, rambling academic style, a bad attempt at mimicking Kurt Vonnegut (in fact, the book is dedicated to him) that just utterly and completely fails, and that presents to us on a regular basis such unpleasantly postmodernist details as two-page-long single sentences and the like.F-cking CHR-ST, Moody! Couldn't you have just written the admittedly great sci-fi tale in the middle and left well enough alone? Why is it that every big literary star of the 1990s has felt this uncontrollable urge in the 2000s to write giant, pointless, rambling, pretentious, genre-twisting pomo pieces of f-cking sh-t, of complete f-cking sh-t? (And yes, Jonathan Franzen and Jonathan Lethem and Michael Chabon, I'm looking at all of you too. J'accuse!) Is someone slipping something into the Brooklyn water supply that turns all formerly great writers into endlessly digressing hacks? Whatever the case, I can't even begin to describe what a profound and monumental disappointment this book was; although like I said, I still recommend the tight and disturbing science-fiction novel that's buried in the middle of it, a great symbolic look at post-9/11 America that is unfortunately surrounded by 400 other pages of unreadable horsesh-t.Out of 10: 4.4, but 8.8 for just pages 63 to 320
BillPilgrim on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I greatly enjoyed the book. But, like most humorous fiction, the degree to which anyone will enjoy it depends on whether or not you share the author's sense of humor. Moody's humor is often subtle, and ridiculous, but it had just the right tone for me, especially in the second part of the book within a book.This excerpt from that part of the book is illustrative, and gives a good overview of the book-within-a-a-book. It occurs when a NASA official comes to the scene of a death at the beginning of the investigation, and says a little too much about what is going on to a developmentally disabled witness.¿¿ Mars is a beautiful, deserted place, and, you may have heard, last year we tried to put some men on Mars. Some women too. And what we learned, Corey, was that there are some places where people just aren't meant to go. And when you send astronauts places where they aren't yet meant to go, all kinds of things go wrong! You know what I mean, right? In this case some things went wrong when we tried to bring the men back from Mars. Some men and women died on the way to Mars. Some men and women decided to stay on Mars, and then there was one man coming back from Mars, and we did everything we could to bring him back, so that he could be reunited with his family. We'd failed so many times, in so many different ways, but we tried to paper over our failures with this one success: we were going to bring this man home. Then something went horribly wrong even there. The man was made sick on Mars, and now it's possible that some people are going to catch the sickness of the man from Mars, and because of this is it urgently necessary that we ---¿
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grumpydan More than 1 year ago
The Four Fingers of Death is a lengthy book. It actually is three stories in one. The first which begins and ends the book is about Montese Crandall who in the near future has one the right to write the novelization of the sci-fi classic "The Crawling Hand". (Okay, they think it is a classic in the year 2025). And we find out the importance of why he needs to write this book. The rest of the book is the story he supposedly wrote. It is split into two sections - Book one explains the Mars voyage and which I enjoyed as it was detailed and stimulating. Classic science fiction. Book Two is the story of the return to earth where only a human arm has crashed landed and may be infected and cause the destruction of human kind. This part was humorous horror to say the least, but didn't grab me as much as the first book. With over 700 pages it took me awhile to get through this one.
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PvtTaylor More than 1 year ago
This book has absolutely no good qualities. The only thing positive that can be said is that it is a cure for insomnia. The jacket notes compare it to "Slaughterhouse-Five". Moody is no Kurt Vonnegut! If you must have a copy, you can find mine in the city dump. Tomorrow is garbage day.