"The Spectacle of a Lost Future": Rick Moody's Suburban Apocalypse


  • Anna Hellén


The paper analyses Rick Moody's fiction, both in relation to the American apocalyptic tradition and the tradition of suburban fiction, arguing that The Ice Storm (1994) and Purple America (1997). in conjoining the two, add new dimensions to both. However, with the two cities of Revelation as points of reference, the paper also traces some crucial differences between the novels regarding their apocalyptic outlook. The Ice Storm depicts a suburban Babylon that must be destroyed in order for a new era to begin. Investing its symbolic universe with the redemptive and ultimately also revelatory powers of catastrophe, the novel is apocalyptic in the traditional, even original, sense of the word. The suburb of Purple America, by contrast. comes across as a bleak version of the New Jerusalem, a place where the conflicts have ceased and where history seems to have come to an end. Purple America, the paper concludes, is essentially post-apocalyptic, not only in the sense that it is set after the catastrophe, but also in that it seems to drain the apocalyptic myth itself of meaning. In the later novel, the suburb also functions as a metonym for the nation as a whole, a nation that is post-productive as well as post-historical.