Rick Moody's scathingly witty novel of the Seventies, The Ice Storm, was published in April of 1994. Reminders were not long in coming that the era it portrayed was now part of history: the month of May began with the death of Richard Nixon, who is virtually a character in the book, and ended with the death of Jacqueline Kennedy, the widow of another president whose name is never mentioned, although the events the book recounts take place on November 23, 1973 -- the day after the tenth anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination.
Moody's first book, Garden State: A Novel, about dazed and confused New Jersey teens, had won the prestigious Puschcart Press Editors' Book Award. The Ice Storm, which was set in the author's home town at the time he was growing up, portrayed parents and children alike floundering in the backwash of the Sexual Revolution. It also received an enthusiastic critical reception.
The Ice Storm was brought to the attention of producer James Schamus by his wife, literary scout Nancy Krikorian, who knew Rick Moody from Columbia University's MFA program. 'It's an astonishingly cinematic book,' says Schamus. 'But, because of its truly literary qualities, people may have missed its extraordinary cinematic possibilities.'
Schamus showed the book to Ang Lee with whom he and partner Ted Hope had already made four films. Despite the obvious appeal of Moody's comedy of familial errors for the creator of 'The Wedding Banquet,' Lee says what attracted him to the book was its climax: the scene where Ben Hood makes a shocking discovery in the ice, followed by the emotional reunion of the Hood family on the morning after the storm. 'The book moved me at those two points,' says Lee. 'I knew there was a movie there.'
Lee signed on to make the film and it fell to Schamus, while he and Lee were in England making 'Sense and Sensibility,' to turn Moody's very li