Saturday, December 27, 2008
1. Why do you think Sarah Schulman wrote The Child?
2. One of the criticisms Schulman says she encountered is that she did not explicitly 'come out' for or against the relationship between Stewie and David and Joe. Do you agree that the author was objective? How did you feel about the relationship? Did you come to a judgment in your own mind?
3. One of the big questions posed in the book is whether Stewie is an adult or a child. The system wants to treat him as an adult for his crimes, but as a child for his choices re: sex. What are your thoughts?
4. It seemed to me that the author did an excellent job of humanizing the central characters - Eva, Stewie, Hockey - letting us see the complexity of their lives, personalities, and situations. What about the peripheral characters, such as Eva's sister, Stewie's family members, the social worker and police officers? Did you find any of them complex? stereotypical?
5. Schulman said this in an interview: "I think that it’s a conceit of privilege to see one’s supremacy as natural, neutral, and value-free, instead of imposed by force. When representation [in literature] expands to include protagonists who don’t have full citizenship rights, it makes other people have to confront that their own, dominant point of view is in fact just one of many, instead of “the way things are.” This knowledge, that people do not earn or deserve their privileges, and that their power is constructed, not natural, makes people very angry. It punctures their façade that they didn’t know was a façade. It is unbearable news, and they will do anything to avoid hearing it." How do you think this applies to The Child?
6. A reviewer on amazon.com wrote: If you know who Procrustes was, and what "procrustean" means, then you'll be at home in this book." What do you think about this? Do you agree?
7. The same reviewer included a disclaimer in his review: "DISCLAIMER: This being America, I need to make it clear that I have contempt for pedophiles and that this book did not make me more sympathetic to them. What it did make me realize is that media stories about them are simplified so that they lose all connection to reality and, as a result of that, we as a society lose all hope of addressing the outcomes." Do you think everyone needs to make this disclaimer if they like the book? If they find the characters Joe and David sympathetic? DID you find them sympathetic?
8. Did you realize this novel was inspired by real events? afterellen.com says: "The Child was inspired by the tragic case of Sam Manzie, who sexually assaulted and strangled an 11-year-old boy who came by his house selling candy. Manzie's parents claimed their son was "pushed over the edge" by his sexual relationship with Stephen Simmons, a 43-year-old man the 15-year-old boy had met online." Does this change your perceptions/feelings about the story?
9. Did you find humour in this book?
10. How did you feel about Eva and her girlfriend's relationship? Did it seem like it was going to work out?
11. What do you think could have saved Stewie?
12. Did you want to read on at the end of the book? Did you want to know the fate of Stewie, Eva, etc?
Monday, December 15, 2008
Most of us seem to like the idea of a change to first Monday of the month. So we'll try this for a couple of months and see how it goes. If it isn't working, we'll find something else that does! And this is with BIG apologies to the one person who let me know this won't work for her.
So our next meeting is Monday, January 5th at 7:30 pm.
Got that? New day of the week. New time. New time of the month.
January's title is The Child by Sarah Schulman.
Anybody want to volunteer some discussion questions?
On a personal note, I've decided to give this "canada reads" thing a try! I'm starting with Lawrence Hill's novel The Book of Negroes. I'm excited! Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?