Purple America

Purple America

by Rick Moody


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, October 17


On the occasion of the paperback release of Demonology, Back Bay Books takes pleasure in making all four of Rick Moody's acclaimed earlier works of fiction available in handsome new paperback editions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316559775
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 05/04/1998
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.87(d)

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

Reading Group Guide

1. Despite Hex's obvious failures, he is not entirely unlikable. What are the qualities about him that make him a sympathetic character? What clues about his childhood explain how he became the man he is? What about him is Jane Ingersoll attracted to?

2. Hex stutters out his words, at times almost incomprehensibly. Billie cannot speak without the electronic device. Louis and Allen communicate their most important thoughts in letters. What do you think Rick Moody is saying about communication today, about the way people discuss their feelings and emotions?

3. Louis Raitliffe leaves his wife Billie at a time in her life when she is most dependent on him. Is there any justification for his abandonment? Is there ever a time when a husband or wife can say, "I just can't take it any more. I have to live my own life"?

4. In addition to the nuclear power plant, what is leaking in Purple America? What is the significance of the leaking? How does it tie the Raitliffe family and plant together? How does the plant figure in the story?

5. What influence do Denny and Chris, the beatnik contractors who renovate the Raitliffes' house (chapter 11), have on Hex? Why is Hex especially susceptible to their influence? Have you ever had a similar experience -- that is, has a person you have known only fleetingly left an indelible impression on you or otherwise altered the course of your life?

6. Every couple's first sexual encounter has its awkward moments. What's unusual about Hex and Jane's first encounter (chapter 18)? Why do you think Jane whispers to herself things are pretty good when the coupling is over?

7. The color purple figures prominently throughout the book. What is the significance of it? How does Rick Moody use the different shades of purple -- e.g. lilac, royal purple, lavender -- to describe moods and feelings. Do you think this is an effective writing tool?

8. The relationship between Billie and Hex Raitliffe -- a mother and her son -- is at the heart of Purple America. But much of what happens in the novel relates directly to Hex's feelings about his father, Allen, and his stepfather, Louis. How do Hex's emotions and attitudes toward these two men evolve throughout the course of the novel? How is Hex himself changed by this evolution in attitude?

9. Hex saves his mother's life by getting her to the hospital and helps her die as soon as they return home. What changes his mind? Discuss the conflicting emotions that go through his mind on page 279.

10. Is the last chapter of Purple America -- Allen's letter to Billie -- tragic or hopeful? Does it make you feel sorry for Billie or relieved that she had some happiness in her life, someone who seemed truly to love her?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Purple America 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
sfh_from_illinois More than 1 year ago
Great writing, with all the contemporary issues thrown in: our culture's love of guns, global energy issues, drinking problems, aging, sex, love, family conflicts, media. Just an amazing feat. Sorry it took me so long to come across this book. Anyone interested in contemporary fiction will want to read this book.
hms More than 1 year ago
I appreciated this book for it's awkward characters...its extreme situation (I couldn't even IMAGINE this being my life) and I wondered through the first half why I'm attracted to such books. Really, it's because Moody is such a terrific writer - his opening is 2 full pages of ONE sentence, and while I'm usually turned off by things like that because they come off as trying too hard to be unique - I truly believe in this instance it helped create the urgency, the drama, the effect of the reader realizing - what the f**k??!!! Good book, I recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is incredible read... an amazing story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago