Endearingly hilarious and devastatingly human, Rick Moody’s new novel, Hotels of North America (Little, Brown, $25), will touch your heart as often as it will make you laugh. Reginald Edward Morse is a motivational speaker whose life is coming unglued when he takes on the pittance-paying role of online hotel reviewer. The novel is a compilation of those reviews, which not only take the reader from Iowa to Italy, but slowly reveal the man behind the incisive observations. Morse reflects on themes of love and loneliness—both in his own and in the lives of people he encounters on his prosaic journeys. He laments not only vermin-infested hotel rooms with inadequate ventilation; he ponders the plight of truck-stop prostitutes, night watchmen, and various surly managers. He also recalls the many accommodations where momentous occasions in his own life have occurred—the gothic campground where he stays with his first girlfriend; the opulent Vermont hotel where he meets a mistress; the flop house where he goes simply because it’s the cheapest, most convenient place near his estranged daughter; the Italian villa where he realizes that his marriage is collapsing, and the irritatingly quaint bed-and-breakfast where he first spends the night with the mysterious woman who becomes the love of his life.
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