At the center of The Omega Force, which opens RIGHT LIVELIHOODS, is a buffoonish former government official in rocky recovery. Dr. "Jamie" Van Deusen is determined to protect his habitatits golf courses (and Bloody Marys), pizza places (and beers) from "dark complected" foreign nationals. His patriotism and wild imagination are mainly fueled by a fall off the wagon. The collection's second novella, K & K, concerns a lonely young office manager at an insurance agency, where the office suggestion box is yielding unpleasant messages that escalate to a scary pitch. Ellie Knight- Cameron's responses to these random diatribes illuminate the toll that a lack of self-awareness can take. The book ends with a cataclysmic vision of New York City, after the leveling of 50 square blocks of Manhattan. Four million have died. Albertine, the "street name for the buzz of a lifetime," is a mindaltering drug that sets The Albertine Notes in motion. Only Rick Moody could lead us to feel affection for the various misguided, earnestly striving characters in this alternately unsettling and warm trio of stories.
With its Möbius loop of time travel, its replication and reiteration of remembered moments and lost love, "The Albertine Notes" evokes Chris Marker's great 1962 film "La Jetée," a work that has more (and more sinister) resonance with each passing year. When Kevin Lee says, "If you want to assume anything, assume that all silences from now on have some grief in them," he might be describing all of us. "The Albertine Notes" is one of the best stories to appear in the new millennium; it underscores that Rick Moody is one of our best writers.