The Second: A Novel About Spirituality, Religion, And Politics by Alan J. CooperThe Second: A Novel About Spirituality, Religion, And Politics by Alan J. Cooper

The Second: A Novel About Spirituality, Religion, And Politics

byAlan J. Cooper

Hardcover | November 1, 2013

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Belief as upbringing, belief as social fact, belief as a species of American Christian fundamentalism: The Second is a work of nonreligious religious fiction that engages all the markers of religion, with “belief” as the core of a modern-day American Gothic in which a trinity of characters clash over the complex ideologies that shape politics, religion, and spirituality. The vibrant, French Canadian Chantelle—a woman who promotes a spirituality based on principles and not traditional dogma—must balance her rocky romance with an aspiring half-Jewish architect, the continuing embrace with her activism, and a connection to a New York organization run by a secretive anti-Semite. But, such a caustic entanglement creates a situation ripe for a devastating conclusion, as the “religious” more frequently lean toward evil over good, the novel’s characters ultimately confronting their individual identities through the realization of just how hard it is to make belief believable.

Alan J. Cooper began a career in writing after being struck by an impaired driver and incurring a severe brain injury. His articles have appeared in the Globe & Mail and he is the author of Brain Injury.
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Title:The Second: A Novel About Spirituality, Religion, And PoliticsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:584 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:November 1, 2013Publisher:EXILE EDITIONSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1550963589

ISBN - 13:9781550963588

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Second is an amazing book I really enjoyed The Second by Alan Cooper. I think it was the first book I had ever read narrated by a character who is an architect and Cooper is up to the task in describing a world as an architect sees it. There are fascinating bits when the main character talks about his designs (with wise cracks about his frustration with his boss and firm's clients) but there's also a real sense when the character describes what he sees in everyday life and even goes for walks that he is someone who has studied architecture. The famous English novelist Thomas Hardy was an architect and this sense also pervades his novels (although I don't think any of his main characters were actually architects). Cooper is also very good at making this architect likeable. He's only a few years out of school (Cooper is very convincing about making his voice young but very educated) and feeling the constraints of having to work within the constraints that often come at a corporate position. His built up frustration seems to express itself in some very witty remarks and, indeed, it's after a long week in the office that he feels a need to take a walk on a Friday evening (after having a couple glasses of wine and enjoying the "bracing wind") which ends up with him meeting his beautiful love interest in a local park. I appreciated how pivotal developments in the story arose spontaneously out of a simple but very realistic decisions of the characters. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2014-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Takes you on a journey, via a great debate, about religion, spirituality and politics, a la Sherlock Holmes conclusion I felt divinely guided to read this book. Though I might not have typically picked it up, it is the kind of book I will now read again and learn something new the second time around or the third or the fourth. It is like a journey through history, social, religious and spiritual studies. I liked the journal entry style, and that every so often throughout the book there was a profound note or paragraph that kind of summarized the big picture. After many pages of narrative between the characters, the profound summary broke up the dialogue but kept me wanting to read more. I personally enjoyed reading about the areas in Toronto that I already know through my own experience, and it was nice to think that the details of the road trip were, though fictional, also geographically accurate. 

I thought it was brilliant how the plot became more intense with some clues and then some shockers towards the end, like a murder mystery or Sherlock Holmes type drama. So much factual information blew my mind away and the research, the detail that went into the book is mind-boggling, in and of itself. I don't know how Mr. Cooper  put all this information together so succinctly, chronologically, and narratively. I was intrigued by the characters, since I've already read his previously written BRAIN INJURY. It felt like I had a bit of an insider view to the book as I read it. I loved that the character, Arthur, loved Chantelle so much. The relationship between the father (Pantel) and daughter (Chantelle) was also endearing in depicting emotional and spiritual growth. 

I particularly enjoyed some of the detail in the characterization of Arthur, whether his drunken stupor, or his daily activities, which I found quite funny. The details are so vulnerable and honest. It’s like Mr. Cooper put into writing automatic non-thinking actions that we as the reader aren't expecting to need to know, yet the detail gives the character more depth. The narrative style is easy, (but not simple), to read, otherwise I might not have been able to finish the book (570 page length). Still, it is all very fascinating, and I see how everything is linked and follows from one chapter to the next. 

Without spoiling the storyline, there are some shockers, that defy any wish for a fairytale ending, and a final twist, that is satisfying in a Sherlock Holmes kind of way. I think THE SECOND would be a great read for a book club or a group or class, because of the debate that comes to light between the characters, suggesting a look at a spiritual life based on principles rather than religious rules. Discussions would help in understanding the detail, the in-depth historical account, biblical and spiritual metaphors, and of course, hopefully be part of the fun, as there are very debatable issues when it comes to spirituality, religion and politics. 
Date published: 2014-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The SECOND: A Novel about Spirituality, Religion, and Politics. Alan J Cooper Alan J Cooper’s book The SECOND captured for me the quandary faced by millions of us hungering for spiritual meaning but having rejected the Christian traditions of old, with childhood memories of hypocrisies and double standards. And the new quick fix of right-wing evangelism especially in the U.S., leaves us downright scared! Cooper exposes such religious literalism for the danger that it poses to both international and domestic understanding in 21st-century societies. I found myself identifying with the novel’s heroine and how her position of principles is perverted by others with their own agenda. For anyone trying to come to grips with the spirituality-versus-religion dilemma, The SECOND is a must read.
Date published: 2013-10-07

Editorial Reviews

"The Second illustrates how a society can devour a person with a profound but unconventional moral and spiritual outlook, particularly if that person is very attractive and keenly intelligent but tinged with nai¨vete´. The story takes us on a romantic but painful North American journey and should be a must read." —Douglas H. Hopp, D.V.M., C.D., Dip.Comp.Med., M.M.W.