Monday, April 1, 2013

The Believers by Zoë Heller

The BelieversThe Believers by Zoë Heller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 An unsentimental and compelling family drama about a political lawyer, possibly modeled after William Kunstler, who has a stroke and how his family reacts in various ways, particularly intensely by his distressed and furious wife, Audrey.  I have friends who will say "but I didn't like the characters" to which the author replies in an interview in the October 1, 2008 issue of Time Out:
I read a review the other day that said, "Joel is the one charming character in the book, and we're left with this pain in the neck." And in one sense that exactly expresses what she's had to deal with all her life, being the less desirable companion to this charming, charismatic, fabulous man, who is also this gigantic egotist. It's quite hard work living with that kind of star. [...:] It's amazing how often, both giving readings in book shops or reading reviews on Amazon, or even reading supposedly sophisticated criticism, that charge arises: "You've written somebody that I don't like." And you want to say, well, how do you feel about Iago? I take umbrage at all that. [...:] I very strongly feel that the job of fiction is not to write admirable figures, but to imagine one's way into all sorts of people, often people who ostensibly at least are deeply unlikeable or unpleasant. The question is not whether you like them but whether you understand them.

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