Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Frequent Contributor
LucyintheOC
Posts: 69
Registered: ‎03-05-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism

Opusquest, the book also made me think, too.

 

What made the book enjoyable for me wasn't the politics and radicalism (i.e., Audrey and Joel, and Karla's husband, Mike), it was the personal journies of the two daughters. I was interested in, and enjoyed, the unfolding of their characters and their quests and where the autho's treatment of them -- even if I would have preferred different a different direction for a character sometimes and/or a different ending for either or both of them. I won't write more, as I don't know if this thread is an acceptable place to talk about the overall book--so I'll leave it here.

Frequent Contributor
LucyintheOC
Posts: 69
Registered: ‎03-05-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism

Choisya, to answer your question, I agree with you that "running [a] country, making and changing laws is a serious business for serious people, whichever side of [any] political divide they are on." So I guess you can say, this is one area of life I see as serious.

Distinguished Wordsmith
Carmenere_lady
Posts: 529
Registered: ‎11-05-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism

Some of you have mentioned that you didn't see the humor in The Believers, however, a couple of scenes jump out at me as being rather humorous.  One involving Rosa and her weekend with the Rabbi's family.  I do respect the peculiarities of different faiths, but I couldn't help but snicker when Rosa used the ladies room and was stalked by Karen who tried to catch her before she shut off he light. Or brush her teeth or take a shower.

 Another farcical moment, in my opinion, was Karla's near strangulation by Nicholas.  On the big screen, that's always going thru my mind when I read, it's rather amusing to see Khaled jump on Karla's back to save her from Nicholas' grasp. 

Funny, I just thought that perhaps Khaled will save Karla from her metaphorical strangling by the hands of her obsessive husband.  I'll have to see how this plays out.

Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism

What a super post WJ!  I agree that it is very sad that some of those on both sides of the Pond who had such high ideals then are now in positions of power and have forgotten that idealism:smileysad:.   And of course the end of the book showed how Audrey used the media very effectively, something that all politicians do today.  The media can make or break any candidate today.  I swear if they all stood still and said nothing the media would campaign on their behalf and 'win' an election according to its own opinions!:smileysurprised::smileysad:    (In France they ban TV/radio/newspaper coverage two weeks before an election in an effort to produce more balanced voting but I do not know whether this has any effect of not.)     

 

Our experience on this side of the pond was not as violent as yours and demonstrations were for the most part peaceful, if heavily policed.  Violent rhetoric was more common than violent action. Radical groups who practiced violence were more common in mainland Europe than in the UK - like the Bader Meinhof gang. 

 


thewanderingjew wrote:

I grew up in the sixties and I don’t  know if my memory is accurate, (historians will know), but in my memory the sixties were overwhelmed by the Viet Nam war, anti-war demonstrations, the free-for-all at Woodstock, the murders of John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald. The culmination of the 60’s was the tragedy of Kent State in 1970. I remember those incidents with more clarity than I do the incidents of the radical groups like The Weathermen or SDS or the Chicago 7 etc.
I think that may only be my personal take on it, because I do remember the fear that spread all over about those groups, (the black panthers and SDS, The Weather Underground, for instance) that preached and carried out violence, but I remember being removed from it perhaps because we didn’t have 24 hour news coverage and we only got news a few times a day for brief periods and we cherry picked what we watched and heard or perhaps I was in denial. 
In a more personal way, I remember the 60’s more as a time of slogans like “make peace, not war”, a time when free love became prevalent, a time when drugs like marijuana were hip, when students staged peaceful demonstrations and girls had long hair and didn't wear makeup and wore flowers in their hair. The prevailing thought of the young was that they could spread peace through love.
The “photograph http://www.may4archive.org/nyt_95.shtml of an anguished Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over the body of one of four students killed (at Kent State) by the National Guard during demonstrations there” stays forever in my mind as the culmination of that era. Guns were turned on unarmed students and, finally, the world was up in arms. For me the government seemed more radical than the groups.
The sixties was an era of liberalism that ran amok and violence without end. All of us, activists or not, had a bit of the flower child or the peacenik in us, whether it was the way we wore our hair in protest or those who marched or those who defied the drug laws and cavorted at Woodstock. We wore peace symbols and made victory signs in greeting. We eschewed materialism and adornments. Isn’t it odd that it was this very outspoken, free-loving, live-simple, non materialistic, non-violent protest, element of society from the early 60’s, that is the very generation that appears to have ushered in the “me generation and the silent majority.”
Our radicals today include our educators, our religious leaders and our athletic and entertainment world, including journalists, all those with a bully pulpit from which they spread their ideas. They are by and large peaceful. There are, however, those from within and without who are violent and Oklahoma City and 9/11 have surely highlighted that. These radicals use spectacle, terror and death to get our attention rather than street corners and leaflets. Rather than using music with a message to get their point across, they use weapons and hostages. To them happiness is judged by the number of casualties.
If there was an event today, we would be saturated with the interviews from the demonstrators, repeated coverage of all the incidents and constant commentary from talking heads so that by the time the day was over, we wouldn't know if there had been one or a hundred demonstrations from the way the news was presented. It is not hard to get coverage because there is 24 hour news and they have to fill the void with something. I think activists of the Audrey and Joel ilk today, would know exactly how to use the media effectively, to get their point across.
twj


 

Frequent Contributor
mwinasu
Posts: 149
Registered: ‎02-02-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism

American radicals of the 1960's were mostly young people protesting a war they did not want to participate in or people of color who wanted an equal chance at the American Dream.  Some of us just went along for the ride because the clothes were cool and we liked the music and weed.  Today radicals are mostly religious fundamentalists.  Out here in the woods, there are more radicals than you can shake a stick at.  We call them conservative republicans, or if they have a gun we call them SIR.
Moderator
KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism


Carmenere_lady wrote:

Some of you have mentioned that you didn't see the humor in The Believers, however, a couple of scenes jump out at me as being rather humorous.  One involving Rosa and her weekend with the Rabbi's family.  I do respect the peculiarities of different faiths, but I couldn't help but snicker when Rosa used the ladies room and was stalked by Karen who tried to catch her before she shut off he light. Or brush her teeth or take a shower.

 Another farcical moment, in my opinion, was Karla's near strangulation by Nicholas.  On the big screen, that's always going thru my mind when I read, it's rather amusing to see Khaled jump on Karla's back to save her from Nicholas' grasp. 

Funny, I just thought that perhaps Khaled will save Karla from her metaphorical strangling by the hands of her obsessive husband.  I'll have to see how this plays out.


I agree, Carmenere_lady  -- I thought the book worked as satire. Almost all the characters take themselves SO seriously and yet they occasionally find themselves in ridiculous situations. The scene you mention with Karla, while cringe-inducing, had a slapstick quality to it.

 

I like your examples so much I am going to use them to start a thread for discussion of the use of humor in the book!

Distinguished Wordsmith
Carmenere_lady
Posts: 529
Registered: ‎11-05-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism

You are such a stitch!  Heller really has some stiff competition when it comes to humor when you're around.  Keep it up:smileyvery-happy:
mwinasu wrote:
American radicals of the 1960's were mostly young people protesting a war they did not want to participate in or people of color who wanted an equal chance at the American Dream.  Some of us just went along for the ride because the clothes were cool and we liked the music and weed.  Today radicals are mostly religious fundamentalists.  Out here in the woods, there are more radicals than you can shake a stick at.  We call them conservative republicans, or if they have a gun we call them SIR.

 

Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
Distinguished Wordsmith
Carmenere_lady
Posts: 529
Registered: ‎11-05-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism

Aww shucks Karen I'm cyber blushing.
KxBurns wrote:

Carmenere_lady wrote:

Some of you have mentioned that you didn't see the humor in The Believers, however, a couple of scenes jump out at me as being rather humorous.  One involving Rosa and her weekend with the Rabbi's family.  I do respect the peculiarities of different faiths, but I couldn't help but snicker when Rosa used the ladies room and was stalked by Karen who tried to catch her before she shut off he light. Or brush her teeth or take a shower.

 Another farcical moment, in my opinion, was Karla's near strangulation by Nicholas.  On the big screen, that's always going thru my mind when I read, it's rather amusing to see Khaled jump on Karla's back to save her from Nicholas' grasp. 

Funny, I just thought that perhaps Khaled will save Karla from her metaphorical strangling by the hands of her obsessive husband.  I'll have to see how this plays out.


I agree, Carmenere_lady  -- I thought the book worked as satire. Almost all the characters take themselves SO seriously and yet they occasionally find themselves in ridiculous situations. The scene you mention with Karla, while cringe-inducing, had a slapstick quality to it.

 

I like your examples so much I am going to use them to start a thread for discussion of the use of humor in the book!


 

Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
Frequent Contributor
bookhunter
Posts: 322
Registered: ‎06-09-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism


KxBurns wrote:

The title of this book begs the question, “Believers in what?” Among the belief systems in which the characters place their faith and around which they organize their lives is political reactionism. Many characters in The Believers attempt to live their lives by their political ideals. In what ways do they succeed and fail? What is the personal impact of rigid adherence to radical political principles on the lives of various characters? Are Audrey and Joel, in particular, still the radicals they believe themselves to be? 

 

Can you identify instances when characters elevate the personal over the political, and to what result? What were some moments of political disillusionment and how did the characters deal with them? 

 

....snip....

 

Karla’s husband Mike has referred to Audrey and Joel as “self-satisfied champagne socialists” (p. 68). Is hypocrisy inherent in the bourgeois lifestyle and value system espoused by Audrey and Joel? ...


I thought "Believers" was an interesting title for the book.  (And I love the cover--where is our thread for discussing the cover?:smileywink: ) The word is more often used in context with religous beliefs more than poilitcal or social ideals--at least in my experience.  So from my perspective, Audrey, Joel, and others have substitued a political belief system for a religious one.  The same passion and devotion that many people have for their religion is carried out in the social and political arena.  The courtroom has become the church where Joel practices his faith. 

 

But along with that passion comes hypocrisy.  Each person's belief system has high standards and high expectations of adherring to those standards so it becomes an intellectual exercise.  And how do you feel about yourself when you have standards so high that you can't meet them?

 

Karen asks, "what is the personal impact of rigid adherence to radical political principles on the lives of various characters?"

 

The inability to live up to these expectations leads to everyone seeming very unhappy, unfullfilled, seeking fulfillment elsewhere.  Drugs, food, cigarettes, affairs, religion, Audrey's sarcastic insults, all become crutches or excuses for not being happy.

 

Joel does not seem so unhappy compared to everyone else, and maybe because he is the only one "practicing" his "faith" (or maybe it is because we don't get to know him as well as we do the others!)

 

Ann, bookhunter

 

 

Frequent Contributor
mwinasu
Posts: 149
Registered: ‎02-02-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism

 TWJ-  Nice writing.
Inspired Bibliophile
thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism

Hugs and a great big thank you to choisya and mwinasu for their compliments.
twj
Moderator
KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism


bookhunter wrote:

I thought "Believers" was an interesting title for the book.  (And I love the cover--where is our thread for discussing the cover?:smileywink: ) The word is more often used in context with religous beliefs more than poilitcal or social ideals--at least in my experience.  So from my perspective, Audrey, Joel, and others have substitued a political belief system for a religious one.  The same passion and devotion that many people have for their religion is carried out in the social and political arena.  The courtroom has become the church where Joel practices his faith. 

 

But along with that passion comes hypocrisy.  Each person's belief system has high standards and high expectations of adherring to those standards so it becomes an intellectual exercise.  And how do you feel about yourself when you have standards so high that you can't meet them?

 

Karen asks, "what is the personal impact of rigid adherence to radical political principles on the lives of various characters?"

 

The inability to live up to these expectations leads to everyone seeming very unhappy, unfullfilled, seeking fulfillment elsewhere.  Drugs, food, cigarettes, affairs, religion, Audrey's sarcastic insults, all become crutches or excuses for not being happy.

 

Joel does not seem so unhappy compared to everyone else, and maybe because he is the only one "practicing" his "faith" (or maybe it is because we don't get to know him as well as we do the others!)

 

Ann, bookhunter

 

 


You've hit the nail on the head with your parallels between political belief and religious belief, Ann.

 

I think Audrey's reaction to Rosa's burgeoning religious faith is fascinating because she sees it as being antithetical to her own adherence to political dogma when really the two have much in common. This is an issue I hope we'll discuss further when the Religion thread goes up tomorrow, and at the end of our time maybe can can compare the relative benefits and shortcomings of the various belief systems -- political, religious, etc. -- featured in the book. 

 

Fantastic insights, though :smileyhappy:

 

And you're right -- I will post a thread for thoughts about the cover! 

Reader
cloudnut220
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎10-04-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism

The further I read into the book, the more interesting I found the "beliefs" of the various members of the familyAll of the family members have deeper issues with their personal beliefs than they initially let on, and how they deal with these issues is very illustrative of their characterAudrey claims to have strong, socialist beliefs, but in reality she doesn't seem very liberal at all and is very dismissive of anything that does not fit her very narrow world viewThis isn't what I think of as liberalism, so it bothered me how she held herself as so high and noble but then was so cruel to othersShe also freely admits that she is abandoning her and Joel's beliefs about death--that they could go proudly because they didn't believe in an afterlife--once she is confronted with the choice of signing a DNR for JoelI realize signing a DNR for a loved one is a very hard thing to do, but to freely abandon what you believe in at that critical point just strikes me as wrong.

 

Rosa and Karla present an interesting juxstaposition in self beliefRosa obviously has very strong self beliefs and think she knows who she is but she's lost--thus her turn to JudaismKarla on the other hand, seems to have no clear idea of who she is and instead lashes herself to her husband and family's identities, and still is lost, only to find herself when she finds a man who really loves herHow these two sisters each use the common feeling of being lost to explore their beliefs and essentially "blow-up" their respective world views to find a kind of happiness is fascinating to watchI'm glad Heller spends as much time with each of them as she does.  

Frequent Contributor
renhair
Posts: 51
Registered: ‎01-31-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism

I agree with you completely....I think she had those issues from our very first introduction to her.  Her anxiety about Joel and her parents, agreeing to leave her home for a man she had spent barely a  few hours with.  I don't think she ever felt like she quite measured up to Joel.  It's almost as if she shared his socialist platform and coudl speak to his points, but didn't have her own.  So, the only way she could hide that was finding fault and degrading others......

 

 


lamorgan wrote:
I feel that Audrey believes in the socialist platform, but she doesn't truly know what exactly it is. She obviously has some self-esteem issues. Why else would she work so hard to degrade those around her if not to make herself feel powerful?

 

 

Frequent Contributor
fordmg
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism


dhaupt wrote:

 

In the 60's I think we had a lot of home grown terrorist (radicals) who wanted to change the world by violence, but we also had the hippies of that era who believed live an let live. I think radicals of the 60's were young and radicals of today are middle aged if not older or maybe the radicals of the 60's and the radicals of today are the same people.

 


This is over simplifying - but I think that radicals in the '60's wanted to change the world.  They had ideas of socialisim, and thought it would make a better world.  Terrorist today only want to tear down society.   They don't necessarily want things to be better

MG

Frequent Contributor
Jennd1
Posts: 75
Registered: ‎01-28-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism

I would agree the audrey is uncomfortable about Sylvia.  Perhaps she feels it is wrong of her to have a cleanng lady based on her political views, but I got the impression that Audrey didn't want to be bothered with  the domestic chores hence her trying to seem to busy to have time to do it herself.

 

Jenn

Wordsmith
kpatton
Posts: 206
Registered: ‎11-27-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Politics and Radicalism

I am very late in joining this discussion.  I didn't want to join the discussion before having read the book and it was delivered to a door of my home that I seldomly use.  I hope there are still readers out there looking at the discussion.

 

When I finished the book my questions was also "believers in what?" .  There are so many levels of belief in this book beyond the political.  There was belief in faithfulness in marriage, belief in what a family should be, belief in what is personal happiness just to name a few.  I have read Heller in the past and her many layers in a book is one of the things I like about reading her.

 

Kpatton