blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Reading Group Discussion Guide

1.    Discuss the protagonist's "taboo purr" as she dips her forefinger
       into the "happy pink wax" pooling around the dripping candle. Why
       do you think she refers to the sticky paraffin as an "eerie halo?"

2.    What vice is the protagonist's father trying to quell when he axes
       his ascots?

3.    Why does the protagonist always associate the "slut" girl with
       pastoral images of blooming jutes and idyllic vales dotted with ewes?

4.    What is the aim of the "idiot" boy who maims his gerbils? Why
       does the protagonist yawn instead of yelp?

5.    What do the mother's reoccurring dreams of radon signify? Why
       does she  continually say, "Get me another drink, darling" even when
       no one else is home?

6.    Who, in your opinion, is the real goner? Is anybody actually resting
       in peace? (RIP, as the headstones say.)

7.    We learn in chapter 4 that the protagonist's favorite letter is a "Z."
       Notice all the zee sounds in the final paragraph of the novel—fizz,
       zipdrive, hazy buzzing. What is the significance of ending the book
       on the word "zero"?  

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