I really wanted to review Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm only after seeing the movie first, since I think it is a story that will offer more nuance and pathos in the form of a cinematic experience. But since I did not get that chance, I have to let the book stand on it own as a somewhat unoriginal, yet deftly talented take on American family life in the pivotal year of 1973. It offers the same mix of humor and heartbreak you will find in most novels about family life, with all kinds of clichés you are used to seeing in books like these: adultery, self-discovery in teenage youth and the loss and gain that comes from the emotional and physical maturation. It has its moments of beauty and sorrow like every other drama, but it is very well written, with a singular voice that is naïve, but aware of the mistakes people can make. It begins rather hilariously as Ben Hood, a middle aged father suffering from a bout of multiple canker sores, is naked in the house of his neighbor, Janey Williams, who he has been having an affair with. She is not there, having left him to go to the grocery store. Still horny, he finds her garter belt, and proceeds to masturbate onto it, stuffing it in the back of their son’s Mikey, closet. From there it is pretty typical, with Ben’s wife Elena being distant, their daughter Wendy discovering feminism and the attraction to the Williams’ boys, and their son, Paul, away at college, equating love with his obsession with comics. The pivotal act in the book is a key party that takes place during the storm of the title, whose end signifies a tragic yet necessary change in their lives. It doesn’t break the mold as far as dramas go, but I’m positive you can do worse than this.