Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Body To Bones Reading Guide

When reading Author Donan Berg’s A Body To Bones, consider the following:

1.  The story begins in a church confessional ten years before Chapter One. What kind of emotional tone does this establish? Does the tone, in perhaps a different context, reappear? Is it engaging, neutral or off-putting?

2.  Are there any visual descriptions that leave a physical impression, either on what just happened, what may be in store, or that cleanse the reader’s palate? As to a cleansing pause, consider James Joyce in “The Dead” where he ends one scene with the following before beginning a subsequent dramatic scene:

            “The morning was still dark. A dull yellow light brooded over
            the houses and the river; and the sky seemed to be descending.
            It was slushy underfoot; and only streaks and patches of snow
            lay on the roofs, on the parapets of the quay and on the area railings.”

3.  In all mysteries a reader should expect clues, red herrings, and suspense. Did you find any or all? Is there a pace consistent with the action?

4.  The story is told in the present tense with several point-of-view character shifts (i.e., the character whose head the reader is inside). Does either tense or point-of-view character shift accentuate or detract from the story narration? What about tense or point-of-view in gaining an understanding of the novel’s characters?

5.  Are there any symbols that are important? E.g., a dove represents peace.

6.  Sarah, the leading character, has what positive character traits, flaws? Could she represent a broad spectrum? Midnight Assassin commented on isolation of midwestern women at the turn of the 20th century. What 1963 book contemporaneous to and mentioned in A Body To Bones has similar theme?

7.  Does the author present a theme as distinct from an action plot or subplot?

8.  Does the author inject social criticism? If so, what? How is it treated?

     (Please note there are no correct or wrong answers to any of the questions.
      No test nor penalty for ignoring these and thinking of your own.)

The above utilized for a book discussion group. A Body To Bones novel available here.

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