Kristine OBrien

Has anyone else noticed the blatant liberal bias? It seems to progress throughout the novel, capping it all off with " Sweden pays high taxes but all the people there have everything they want and all is clean". Really? Pure liberal guilt clap-trap.

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Yaaresse It's probably a safe bet, based on your choice of words, that if the "bias" was in the other direction, you would have no complaint with it. It would have been praised if mentioned at all.

If there wasn't truth to it, there couldn't be any possibility of so-called "liberal guilt." Sweden does have high taxes. They do have excellent social services, healthcare, and education. Their country is very clean.

The town the fictional Zach lived is was described as a former mill town. It had all that goes with that -- loss of jobs, environmental problems, stress, increased crime -- on top of being geographically isolated and trying to deal with a strain on its resources because of a sudden influx of immigrants with special needs. That this made a huge impression on a lonely, uneducated, poor 16 year old boy was probably one of the more believable moments in the book.
Pamela Huxtable As The Burgess Boys is a novel, a work of fiction, I don't think it's appropriate to call it "bias." It's simply the narrator's point of view. It may or may not be the opinion of the author.
Alisa If you notice or think you notice liberal or conservative bias in a novel, you should probably ask yourself a couple of questions. 1. Am I the one bringing a reader's bias to the novel? Are my life experiences keeping me from understanding these characters? 2. Why am I obsessed with the idea that a work of fiction has a "bias"? Of course it does. Every piece of writing brings a "bias" of one sort or another. 3. Is this the point of view of the author, the narrator, or a character? If it's the point of view of a character, why am I worrying about it? 4. Is this something that's important in this novel? I'm really surprised that after reading The Burgess Boys all you can see is a possible liberal bias. I was a lot more concerned about the messy relationships the characters had managed to get themselves into. I was wondering how your whole worldview might shift if the defining moment of your childhood was suddenly revealed to be a lie.
Matthew So does Sweden have low taxes? Or is it dirty? What about that statement, exactly, do you disagree with?
Joseph Reynolds For goodness sake, just stop with the 'my little eye sees something biased' you wing-nuts are driving me crazy. My advice: don't read books anymore. Just watch Fox where you can revel in your ignorance.
Diane My relatives in the Netherlands have actually talked to me about the high taxes (which they also pay) and which they feel happily keeps everyone on the same level, no matter their position. They like their health care, they like their streets and their bicycle lanes, etc. They do not understand us here in America. So if you think this is trying to guilt you, maybe it 'might' make you want to investigate another viewpoint...I don't know.

The other 'blatant liberal' idea is trying to understand the 'other' and their culture. My own mother grew up in the Netherlands and would often complain that Jewish shopkeepers would want to barter, which she found unseemly...if she had tried to look inside the culture that they came from, she might have understood that this is how their culture did business. It was not trying to cheat anyone, it was just a way of life. Instead of just slamming the liberal point of view that you are so angry about, how about trying to understand the 'other'. It doesn't mean that you have to agree with it, but dismissing the alternate viewpoint with pat phrases like 'pure liberal guilt clap-trap' is childish; you might try to broaden your insights to something more nuanced.
Özlem K. "It's not my job to make readers know what's narrative voice and not the private view of the author." My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Christina I agree with the previous response. I did not find that to be a liberal bias, nor did I find this book to be in any way “preachy” which would have made me put it down almost immediately. I thought the comment about taxes/etc spoke more to the character’s learning experience abroad (having never left Maine) then him (or the author) having a political bias.
KB Gathering that the comment from reader came from a surface kind of "read" -- how about all those "blatant" snide references to Park Slope (BMW prams?).

C'mon. I know this is an old thread but it is a ridiculous comment on a book that constantly criticizes the liberals in Maine -- as if there are any left (pun intended)! Get a grip. Somali lives do matter.
Susan Why must some people claim everything is about "liberal bias".....that term has no meaning and makes the person using it seem narrow-minded.
Rick Who cares? If it is well written, a good story and interesting characters I don't give a damn whether it is liberal or conservative bias. I am reading for enjoyment not based upon political bias. If that was the only reason for reading something do believe I would develop a very closed mind. Whatever an author's political bias will never be critical of a well written story with interesting characters that gets one to think. Even at my age just might learn something.

J Umm, yes. Definitely written from a liberal point of view. Liberals and conservatives don't just disagree on key issues - the way they see the world is entirely different. This book was written through the lense of a liberal view point.
MariaJulia I certainly did notice. I suppose that when you read something that meshes with your own cultural values, you don't really see it as biased, just "normal." To me, the slant stood out like a sore thumb.
Jack Vasen I was actually impressed that the author managed to present several political issues of our day without showing bias. There were several points of view.
As to Sweden, my son lived there for 4 years. They had two children there. At first my daughter-in-law thought the universal healthcare was great, until she had to wait 4 hours or more every time she needed something. And the doctors and nurses were not always helpful. When they left Sweden, she was ready to get away from that healthcare system.
As to the people there - they may be good to one another, but they are extremely reserved in general and absolutely unfriendly to immigrants, whatever the skin color. Sweden has a huge problem with Syrian immigrants and recently set up border screening.
There are many nice things about Sweden too. My DiL got to stay home and received support money for each child for a year and my son got decent maternity leave. He also got protection from ridiculous work requirements like the 60 hour week that many salaried people work in the US.
But yes the taxes were very high and the cost of living was outrageous.
People need to realize that benefits like these cost someone, i.e. someone has to pay for it. It is usually the middle class that ends up paying an unfair share.
Ashley Cooprider The characters in the book (at least Bob and Jim) constantly refer to left-wing bias, left wing agenda, left wing guilt trap, etc. I know I'm getting the exact terms wrong, but yes, it's safe to say that the author is a liberal, writing from a liberal point of view.
Larry Bassett I like the author's potential "liberal bias" that I suspected in Olive Kitteridge and again sniffed here.
Susan She makes it very clear in all of her books that she is biased against Republicans. Her views would be better off in a memoir. Honestly her thinly veiled anti-conservative rants spoiled these books for me.
Felicia This wasn't a non-fiction book. One sentence out of the entire book, that you jumped on?
Innis Mcallister Irritating that this question is still top of the pile here, as its clearly written by a troll (the one book they've read, which clearly was so off-putting that they never read anything else)
Stacy40pages thanks.. this just made me start the book!
Amy Actually I did. Then I also noted Maine is the state with the lowest religious attendance of any US state. Made me think is there a relationship between haters and bigotry and religion? Dunno
Madeline A novel and its narrator or characters may or may not express the author's opinions, bias, whatever. The point is to tell a story, to make the story believable and relevant to at least some readers, perhaps to express some "universal truth." It's not fair to dismiss a novel (NOTE: a work of fiction) because you disagree with what you perceive as a viewpoint expressed by the characters or their lives, actions, etc. However, if you are so upset by the "liberal bias" that it interferes with your otherwise enjoying or appreciating the story, by all means close the book and move on. There's lots of good stuff yet to read.
Jane Schneeloch Wow, this comment seems to come out of left field, or maybe right. I didn't see any political bias at all--right or left.
Marsyl Yay! I will probably enjoy it then.
Sally Love all the comments. I'm re-reading, as I'm a Big Strout fan. Early on in the story, but I'm feeling some sympathy for Susan and her little life. The audio is great especially with some of the Maine accents. I'm talking to myself more in the car than normally - trying to imitate!
Marianne K Well, I got to page 19 and quit as soon as I saw that the crime committed by a character was, ::gasp:: throwing a pig's head into a mosque. Maybe I'm wrong not having finished the book, but after seeing this question I know I did the right thing. It's too bad, I really was looking forward to this book.
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by Elizabeth Strout (Goodreads Author)
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