Welcome to the first of what I hope to be a recurring theme here – the Portrait. In this series I intend to take someone I admire, or who have been an influence on my art or mind or personality, create a portrait of them and talk a bit about them and why I like them. First out:
Henry James Moody
Henry James “Hank” Moody was born in the Bronx but grew up in Levittown, New York. He moved to New York City as a young man to become an author, where his early works earned him something of a cult following. The gritty, dark realism of his novels and short stories was instantly compared to Charles Bukowski by critics and fans alike, but it wasn’t until the publication of his third novel – God Hates Us All – that he reached public acclaim.
The success of God Hates Us All earned him a movie deal and he and his family moved to California so he could work on the screenplay. Director Todd Carr turned the dark twisted tale of love and insanity into a mediocre romantic comedy (A Crazy Little Thing Called Love), and that may have been part of the reason why Hank didn’t write anything new for a long time – another contributing factor may have been the break-up with his long time girlfriend Karen Van Der Beek, the mother of Hank’s only child. After a short stint as a blogger for Hell-A Magazine he wrote the biography of music producer Lew Ashby, but there was not a page of fiction anywhere in sight.
Or so it appeared.
Scandal hit. It was revealed that Hank Moody was the real author behind Fucking & Punching – in more ways than one. As you may already know, the book told the tale of an illicit affair between then 16-year old Mia Lewis and a much older man: Hank Moody. The media revelled in the story and while the success of the book increased tenfold, Hank was charged with statutory rape.
After the conviction, his life just hasn’t seemed to get back on track. Despite having great success with his latest novel Californication a few years ago, his penchant for alcohol, drugs and women eventually saw Hank forced into rehab. He is out now, apparently only moderately sober and again, not writing…
So, you may ask: what redeeming qualities do I see and admire in a womanizing, alcoholic, non-prolific writer with a failed family life?
His writing, mainly. It is full of dark humour, self-loathing main characters, complicated relationships, drugs, sex and rock-‘n’roll – and it’s good. He has a voice that speaks to me, and God Hates Us All is among my favorites when it comes to modern literature. But more than that, he sees potential and goodness and joy even in the darkest corners of life – he’s acutely aware of the human condition in all its torrid perversity. I can relate.
As a person, Hank Moody certainly seems every bit as self-loathing and complicated as his main characters, but he seems to have a good heart. I follow his career closely, and he serves as a reminder to me that things could be worse: just because things are bad and you aren’t producing anything worthwhile, it doesn’t mean you should give up.