Ron Slate has posted a superb review of Zoë Heller’s novel The Believers, which I haven’t read but now simply must. As far as I’m concerned, Ron writes some of the best reviews around, online or off, and this one is right up there in illuminating not only how a text works, but in offering a clear understanding of its context – literary, historical, philosophical, psychological, sociological. Yup, the whole damned works! And what is particularly difficult to achieve – and an indication of hard-won wisdom, a concept rather neglected in our times – Ron leaves enough room for readers to bring their own selves to the text. If envy is an indication of how much I wish I could analyse like this, then picture me with skin as lush an April green as the fields and meadows beyond my house.

Especially interesting is the idea that irony has at its heart a moral imperative – perhaps a good way to distinguish between it and the chic, bitter, caustic sark often encountered as stance and mask these days, particularly online. Literature – and of course I include here good literary criticism – really does have much to do with living well.


2 thoughts on “Chic ironic bitterness

  1. Lee 15 years ago

    I know the feeling, John. The only thing I can tell myself is that it really doesn’t matter how many books we read, but how we read them.

  2. John Baker 15 years ago

    Thanks for this, Lee. So good to have those insights.
    Looks like I’m going to have to read Heller now.
    So much to do.