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After waxing rhapsodic about sunrise for almost a dozen pages, Rick Moody’s novel The Diviners begins a dolly shot of wacky and contemptible characters who entangle as they try to put together a TV-miniseries deal. There’s the B-movie producer’s mother who collapses one morning, causing her fat daughter such stress that she must talk to her therapist as she bullies her Sikh limousine driver from one Manhattan Krispy Kreme shop to the next, then finally to her company, Means of Production, where her assistant, who calls her Minivan in her mind, is writing a screenplay about Mrs. Marquis de Sade, in which she tries to interest the action star with whom they share space, who suggests instead that they write the miniseries Minivan thinks she wants to make about the Mongols, one of whom discovers the secret of dowsing…and so forth. What the characters make up for in sheer numbers, they sometimes lack in development. When the action movie star’s commercial-actress wife finds out he’s been having an affair with the—well, skip ahead—he’s actually surprised that she even cares: “How can someone this beautiful have an inner life? And if she does, why is it that he has never, ever had a part in it?” The Diviners also suffers from one of the quickest bouts of nostalgia ever, so if you miss the Man on the Street weighing in on the presidential election of 2000 more than I do, hear Moody read at 7 p.m. Tuesday, September 20, at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Janet Hopf)