Monday, March 23, 2009


I play Netflix Roulette—which means I add movies to my queue without looking at the top of my list; I never know what will ship next. This week, when the red envelope arrived, it contained Notes on a Scandal—the movie based on Zoë Heller's What Was She Thinking?.

Here's a wonderful kind of kismet: Zoë's new novel, The Believers, has just published in the United States to terrific reviews.

Zoë’s novels are so realistic and satiric that some people ask her, “Why are so many of your characters unlikeable?” I never ask. At times, everybody can be unpleasant, stubborn, and ridiculous. Zoë is a novelist—and her characters can’t hide their true selves from her—or from us. And, after all, I'm past the age when Pollyanna can hold my attention.

The more interesting questions are the ones that Zoë asks: What do we believe in? The solidity of our marriages? A political doctrine? Do some of our beliefs keep us from true happiness? What happens when these seemingly rock-solid beliefs are shaken?

Spend some time with the Litvinoffs of The Believers and find out.

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