THURSDAY

“She drank the demon rum, and she taught me how to do it, too, when we were kids; she taught me how to drink. We stole drinks, or we got people to steal them for us; we got reprobates of age to venture into the pristine suburban liquor stores. Later, I drank bourbon. My brother drank beer. My father drank single malt scotches. My grandmother drank half-gallons and then fell ill. My grandfather drank the finest collectibles. My sister’s ex-husband drank more reasonably priced facsimiles. My brother drank until a woman lured him out of my mother’s house. I drank until I was afraid to go outside. My uncle drank until the last year of his life. And I carried my sister in a blackout from a bar once—she was mumbling to herself, humming melodies, mostly unconscious.” In the title piece of his new short-story collection, Demonology, Rick Moody, the relatively young author of such award-besotted novels as The Ice Storm and Purple America, chronicles his relatively young sister’s last day of life. Moody, however, doesn’t eulogize his lost sibling with Hallmarkian bouquets of whispers and sentiment. Instead, in the span of just a handful of pages—and with memory fragments tumbling into the story like photos unglued from a scrapbook—he presents her as a fleshy, bloody whole, just as damaged (and beautiful and caring and selfish…) as the rest of us. “Demonology” has been reprinted in four different anthologies, but here, as the final installment in a collection obsessed with the modern complexities of love and loss, the work is all the more heartbreaking and staggering. And, yes, genius. Moody appears at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, at Olsson’s Books & Records, 1200 F St. NW. Free. (202) 347-3686. (Sean Daly)