Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Discussion Guide - Stewart O'Nan

            Bettendorf, Iowa, Library Director canceled my appearance to lead 2010 Contemporary Book Discussion Group discussion of  Mr. Stewart O’Nan’s novel entitled Last Night at the Lobster. I had transmitted ahead of time these reader guide questions:

  1. What significance does the snow have other than portending an actual storm?
    2.   What memorable characteristic does Manny DeLeon, the leading character, have?

    1. Does his drug use alter your perception?
    2. What does this memorable characteristic present to other characters?
    3. If Manny were kind, why would Fredo slice his jacket? Did he? If a box cutter is missing, does that indicate Fredo acted on impulse or with premeditation? Is there any proven connection between the missing box cutter and Fredo?

  1. What does Manny as the central character want? In compelling fiction the hero desperately wants something. Does he want love, wealth, revenge, safety, redemption, freedom, or simple peace of mind? Did you think of something else?

  1. Are the restaurant diners believable individually and/or representative of a group?

  1. How many critical choices face Manny that last day? How do they affect the story?

  1. How do Manny’s managerial experiences on that last day change his interactions with others, employee and/or diner? If he doesn’t change, isn’t that also okay?

  1. How would you say Manny the individual changed from page one to the novel’s end?

  1. Who or what is the villain in the novel? Is it expressed or merely hinted at?

  1. Consider the following sentence as a given: A novel is an amplification of real life. Is this novel more fun, more romantic, more glamorous, and/or more dangerous? Is it wittier, braver, courser, faster, and/or bigger? Does it have more taste, smell, and sound? Are friendships closer and enemies crueler? Are children more mature and senior citizens more profound?

  1. At the end of the story did you feel satisfied? In what way? If not, why not? (Length of novel isn’t a relevant consideration.)

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