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It’s tough to categorize Rick Moody’s latest literary gem as a novel. In fact, it may be best not to categorize it at all.
“Hotels of North America” is a fictional collection of online hotel reviews written by a paunchy, middle-aged, occasional motivational speaker named Reginald Edward Morse. The reviews span more than two years and cross the country. They also span a life — loneliness, alcoholism, extramarital affairs, a failed marriage, a new love and a young daughter left behind by divorce.
Readers more comfortable with linear narratives, traditional character development and carefully unspooled plots may find “Hotels” tough-going at first. But dedication is rewarded here by Moody’s, at times, hilarious, pathetic and poignant “nationally recognized” RateYourLodging.com reviewer, Morse.
While Morse spends considerable time doling out practical tips for the weary traveler in search of a good night’s sleep — “Do not carry keys near your keycard … Demagnetization is a fact of life,” explaining how bed-and-breakfast inns are marred by “throw pillow abuse” and debating whether hotel sex is inherently better than home sex — Morse, more importantly, reveals his loneliness. He’s a victim of the modern affliction of being overly connected and woefully disconnected at the same time.
Moody, himself, sums it up best in a clever afterward to Morse’s collected reviews that he says he was persuaded to write for a paltry $300: “It is a collection of writings about what it means to be alone.”