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KxBurns
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Re: The Use of Humor in The Believers


READERJANE wrote:
I think that this juxtaposition of vicious humor and political correctness underscores a palpable tension within Audrey. One one hand she wants to be this paragon of radical correctness , i.e Joel's helpmate in the cause,and on the other hand there are parts of her life with the family and Joel that have made her into a shadow figure, again Joel's helpmate in the home , and the humor is her way of striking back at those close to her.  Of course, she might get a resolution to her "situation" if the people she was striking out at had a clue as to what their role iis in her life of frustration. Heller has made this character interesting.

 

I like this assessment. It's as though Audrey's tolerance has been stretched so thin for so long -- between her marriage and the open-mindedness demanded by her political milieu -- she just can't be bothered anymore.

 

This is kind of tangential to the question of humor, but is Audrey's problem that she doesn't filter what she says or that she judges people so harshly in the first place? I guess ultimately the question is whether tolerance is a matter of thoughts or the expression of the thoughts?  

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thewanderingjew
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Re: The Use of Humor in The Believers

I think Audrey just says what is on her mind without thinking about the effect of her words. If by expression of thoughts you mean words, I would have to say that I think tolerance is expressed in one's behavior. The old adage "actions speak louder than words" comes to mind.
twj


 

KxBurns wrote:

edited by twj...
This is kind of tangential to the question of humor, but is Audrey's problem that she doesn't filter what she says or that she judges people so harshly in the first place? I guess ultimately the question is whether tolerance is a matter of thoughts or the expression of the thoughts?  


 

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CDover1978
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Re: The Use of Humor in The Believers

I’m not sure if I read a lot of humor or mild to harsh sarcasm.  Audrey was a hoot mainly because she’s so blunt with her responses.
Courtney
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katknit
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Re: The Use of Humor in The Believers


KxBurns wrote:
I think the term I would use to describe the humor in ths book is viciously funny. And that is an uncomfortable kind of humor, particularly because it's frequently at odds with another aspect of the novel, political correctness.

Rather than vicious, I think the humor is biting. There's a passage describing how Audrey in particular got that way. It says she started being outspoken as a young bride to cover her own feelings of insecurity. Her outspokeness became habitual until now, in late middle age, it's lost its charm and  everyone rolls their eyes behind her back.

No two persons ever read the same book. [Edmund Wilson]
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detailmuse
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Re: The Use of Humor in The Believers

Some more laugh-out-loud lines:

 

p196 -- describing Rosa's austere apartment bedroom, furnished like a Motel 6 and lighted by a fluorescent tube: "Oh, my God, Rosa," Raphael had cried on the one occasion that he had visited her here, "I love what you've done with this place!"

 

p212 -- Audrey greeting Rosa with, "Shalom!"

 

And my favorite metaphor: p127 about the roughened hands of the teenage patient, Nicholas/Monster: "His palms were the translucent yellow of parmesan rind."

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blkeyesuzi
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Re: The Use of Humor in The Believers

I love dark humor in a book.  I seem to be a fan of subtle, dry humor for the most part.  It seemed to take a while for me to fall into the cadence of this novel in relation to the humor, however.  Perhaps it was because I didn't get to know the character or their situations until about half-way through, thus I wasn't comfortable laughing at/with them until this point.  I have to say that once I DID become acclimated, I really enjoyed the humor and was able to relate to the characters and enjoy the book so much more.
Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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blkeyesuzi
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Re: The Use of Humor in The Believers


IBIS wrote:

I thought Heller's use of metaphors and similes were well done. I know that some authors overuse them... but in this instance I don't think they're superfluous. The metaphors are couched in a wry, gentle sense of humor....  they are not mean-spirited; they poked a gentle fun at them. 

 

They revealed to me, the author's fondness for her characters... I read in them the overall sensibility that Zoe Heller is very fond of them... in spite of some of their unlikeability.

 

For example, to describe that Joel had straight white teeth is merely descriptive... but when they're described as straight and white as bathroom tiles.... she gives the reader an image with amazing visual clarity... as well as an added gentle poke of fun... the idea that this radical lawyer is a dentist's dream....

 

IBIS 

 


I think Zoe Heller is a very talented author and really enjoyed her use of metaphor early in the book.  However, grew a little weary of what became (to me) an almost over-use of metaphor as I read on.  

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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blkeyesuzi
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Re: The Use of Humor in The Believers

I love the way Zoe Heller creates humor in the most unexpected places.  For instance, I laughed out loud at the moment when (chapter 18) Rosa is in the hospital room with her father and Bernice walks in.  Rosa doesn't know who Bernice is, yet.  Audrey appears "wild-eyed in the threshold" and screams, "Get out you whore!" and Rosa response is, "Mom, we have visitors!" as if she is unflapped by her mom yelling such "niceties" at her on a regular basis.  In response, Audrey says, "SHE'S the one I'm talking to."  It just struck me as so funny!

 

I could just imagine this moment performed comedically in a movie.  It was almost a Woody Allen moment! LOL

 

 

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs