Welcome to fall. Please, join us this Wednesday to catch up with each other and discuss Dave Eggers' Heroes of the Frontier. Suggested discussion questions are below.
Hope to see you there!
1. Did you like this book?
2. How does the time of day affect our decisions and our interactions with others? Can you relate to the ups and downs in Josie's day (as she recalls them p.21-26)?
3. What do you think of Josie? Are you rooting for her? Do you judge her? Do you see any of yourself in her? Maybe as an exaggeration?
4. Have you ever wondered where your kids come from?
5. What is a materialist? ("She was the purest sort of materialist: she wanted things, but she didn't care about things" 57.)
6. Does this ring true to you? "We gravitate toward comfort, Josie thought, but it must be rationed. Give us one-third comfort and two-thirds chaos-- that is balance." (85).
7. How do you feel about the pace of the plot as the backstory unfolds? Too many names to learn? Lopsided focus on certain details that I'm not sure tie into the rest of the story (audience's reactions to the magic show; young women showering at the RV camp).
8. Who is his intended audience? People who were young adults or kids during Vietnam?
9. Any parallels to draw between Vietnam and Afghanistan?
10. Any significance to the repeated mention of perusing periodicals like Old West magazine ("Trails Grown Dim") which she reads in the Chateau and the local Homer paper which she reads at Sam's? Always mentioning the reading material -- that they find in the B&B they squat in or the cabin at the silver mine.
11. Carl obviously has no backbone. But what about Josie? Also just as rootless? Or is she just trying to reinvent herself at this new crossroads in life?
12. How do we make up our own fiction? She calls Carl a liar, but Josie's lies slip easily off her tongue, like: "What are you looking for?..."A key to the storage unit," Carl said, lying. "You took it with you. I know you did," Josie said, though she had no idea what the key looked like or if he'd taken it." (180-1).
13. When should Child Protection Services be called? When were you most afraid for Paul and Ana's safety? (Archery practice when Kyle pulls out a gun, Being left at the RV park with creepy Jim as babysitter, near miss of the forest fire, near miss of lightning strike at the end, etc.)
14. What do you make of the themes of this book, like outer space, war, musicals and shit?
15. What is it with writers bashing Ohio these days? (Hillbilly Elegy, Little Fires Everywhere, Eligible, being other examples.)
16. What do we want most from our children? For Josie, "what she wanted most of all from her children: she wanted them to be brave. She knew they would be kind...but to be brave!" (307).
17. What do you make of the ending? The double entendre of fire?
Thank you so much for coming over Wednesday night to discuss Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers. Abby, we missed you, and we agree: the book was definitely an "unsettling wild ride"!
Corinne brings up a good point though -- in how many novels do we get a glimpse into the workings of a character's mind in real time, the real ups and downs and contradictory thoughts as they fly through Josie's consciousness? If we could see into each others' minds...how many of us would be found "crazy"?
With that question in mind and knowing that you are all educated, well-spoken formidable women, it is with trepidation that I confess I have launched a website with blogs of sorts to put my own thoughts down in writing, transparent for anyone to read, and our book club material is on it. The content for the book club blog is simply my emails to you minus personal information.
My greater vision is to have a place to note various threads of discussion I have been a part of in Cambridge over the past few years, discussions on faith and racism and education and of course, literature. And all of this makes me tremble as I wonder if you will accept me as author of this new space, as you become more aware of how I am author of the thoughts and workings in other spheres of my life.
The website itself is still very much under construction as I brainstorm and post and revise, but if you are inclined you can check it out here at:
Eventually there will be a periodic newsletter highlighting new posts as well.
And with all of that preamble, I hope you will join us next month as we discuss...Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward.
Hope to see you there!
The Tipsy Mamas' Book Club is co-hosted by Corinne Foster and myself, though the spirit of our discussions is flavored by many readers.