Winner of the Grub Street Book Prize for Nonfiction, Between Panic and Desire, named after two towns in Pennsylvania, finds Moore at the top of his astutely funny form. A book that could be named after one of its chapters, “A Post-Nixon, Post-panic, Post-modern, Post-mortem,” this collection is an unconventional memoir of one man and his culture, which also happens to be our own.
Blending narrative and quizzes, memory and numerology, and imagined interviews and conversations with dead presidents on TV, the book dizzily documents the disorienting experience of growing up in a postmodern world. Here we see how the major events in the author’s early life—the Kennedy assassination, Nixon’s resignation, watching Father Knows Best, and dropping acid atop the World Trade Center, to name a few—shaped the way he sees events both global and personal today. More to the point, we see how these events shaped, and possibly even distorted, today’s world for all of us who spent our formative years in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. A curious meditation on family and bereavement, longing and fear, self-loathing and desire, Between Panic and Desire unfolds in kaleidoscopic forms—a coroner’s report, a TV movie script, a Zen koan—aptly reflecting the emergence of a fractured virtual America.
Praise for the Book
“Moore forges a brisk, incisive, funny, sometimes silly, yet stealthily affecting memoir in essays and skits, a ‘generational autobiography,’ and good candid guy stuff. . . . Each anecdote, piece of pop-culture trivia, and frankly confessed panic and desire yields a chunk of irony and a sliver of wisdom.”—Donna Seaman, Booklist
“The writing is frequently very funny; insightful, too, especially Moore’s belief that humans are generally delusional when it comes to their expectations vs. what is realistically possible. . . . The narrative has its poignant moments, particularly in Moore’s recollections of his father. And despite his fractured take on the world, his message is essentially hopeful. Moore, it seems, is moving on.”—Robert Kelly, Library Journal
“Between Panic and Desire is more autopsy than memoir—a strange new hybrid. It’s a fantasy of letting go of the things that have haunted Moore his entire life. These things do, in fact, float off the pages.”—Los Angeles Times
“This book is funny, funny, funny. It is an unconventional—some might say, experimental—collection of frolicsome and touching personal essays. . . . [T]he book is a rare example of how unusual form actually helps. It is the ideal display for Dinty’s imagination. He daydreams. He fantasizes. He hallucinates. And this is nonfiction. For anyone who thinks the genre is nothing more than a retelling of facts, pick up a copy of Between Panic and Desire. . . . It is literary nonfiction with integrity. And it’s fun.”—Oxford Town
“[A] quirky, entertaining joyride.”—Publishers Weekly
“Between Panic and Desire turns the memoir genre on its head as it deftly moves from essay to essay.”—Peter Grandbois, Review of Contemporary Fiction