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Q&A | February 27, 2014

Rene Denfeld: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Rene Denfeld

Describe your latest book. The Enchanted is a story narrated by a man on death row. The novel was inspired by my work as a death penalty... Continue »
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    The Enchanted

    Rene Denfeld 9780062285508

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1 Remote Warehouse Literature- A to Z

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On a Day Like This


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Reading Group Guide

1. In the beginning, Andreas defines emptiness as “the normal state of things…nor was it anything he was afraid of-quite the opposite.” Do you agree with this definition? How does Andreass idea of emptiness change throughout the novel?

2. Why is Andreas so critical of everyone he knows? Is he equally critical of himself?

3. What prompts Andreas to flee the doctors office before he hears the results of his biopsy? In what ways might the story change if he knew whether he was ill or not?

4. What drives Delphines immediate attachment to Andreas despite his fickle treatment of her? Why does she accept his apologies without question?

5. Compare and contrast the women in Andreass life- Fabienne, Nadia, Sylvie, and Delphine. How are these women portrayed? Does Andreas genuinely care for any of them?

6. Look at the scene when Jean-Marcs wife, Marthe, tells Andreas the tragic story of the great love of her life that never panned out. Why does Andreas envy Marthes love for Philippe? What is the difference between love and possession?

7. Examine several of the passages in which Andreas observes the monotonous and mundane details of everyday life. What themes can you draw from these descriptions?

8. After sneaking into his childhood home, now owned by his brothers family, Andreas says, “Its all gone now.” What is Andreas searching for by going back to his hometown? Why is he holding onto the past so tightly?

9. How does Andreass memory of Fabienne compare to reality when he finally meets her again? Does their difference in the way they remember their past make a more universal statement about the dangers of glorifying the past?

10. Andreas admits that “he sometimes wondered what life would be like if he had never left the village.” Do you think he regrets his decision to leave? What does this reveal about his character? What events cause him to continually question his choices?

11. From the beginning, Andreas hints that he and his brother are not close and fail to communicate. How is their visit to their fathers grave a catalyst for a greater understanding of each other?

12. In the last scene, Andreas unites with Delphine on a crowded beach and the novel ends with the sentence “Only the crashing of the waves was very near and held him.” How did you interpret this sentence and the final scene? Has Andreas completed his journey? Is he finally content?

Product Details

Stamm, Peter
Other Press
Hofmann, Michael
Hofmann, Michael
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
7.88x5.00x.85 in. 1.03 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

On a Day Like This Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$22.25 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Other Press - English 9781590512791 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In the quiet but evocative latest from Swiss writer Stamm (Unformed Landscape), Andreas, a 40-something Swiss expatriate, teaches German in Paris and spends much of his time musing over Fabienne, the lost love of his youth, while sleeping with women he doesn't much like. Andreas thinks of himself as quiet and passive, and is thus surprised by the intensity of his reaction when told he may have a serious lung disorder. He reacts by allowing a casual affair with 24-year-old Delphine (a teaching colleague who had briefly been involved with Andreas's best friend, Jean-Marc), to intensify. He tells Delphine about his illness; she reciprocates by taking care of him as he recovers from surgery. The two seem poised to take a chance on one another, but Andreas's fidelity to Fabienne is still to be reckoned with. Andreas's sorrows and changing perspectives are surprisingly powerful in this muted, thoughtful novel of second chances. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , A new novel of artful understatement about mortality, estrangement, and the absurdity of life from the acclaimed author of Unformed Landscape and In Strange Gardens

On a day like any other, Andreas changes his life. When a routine doctor’s visit leads to an unexpected prognosis, a great yearning takes hold of him—but who can tell if it is homesickness or wanderlust? Andreas leaves everything behind, sells his Paris apartment; cuts off all social ties; quits his teaching job; and waves goodbye to his days spent idly sitting in cafes—to look for a woman he once loved, half a lifetime ago. The monotony of days has been keeping him in check; now he hopes for a miracle and for a new beginning.

Andreas’ travels lead him back to the province of his youth, back to his hometown in Switzerland where he returns to familiar streets, where his brother still lives in their childhood home, and where Fabienne, a woman he was obsessed with in his youth, visits the same lake they once swam in together. Andreas, still consumed with longing for his lost love and blinded by the uncertainty of his future, is tormented by the question of what might have been if things had happened differently.

Peter Stamm has been praised as a “stylistic ascetic” and his prose as “distinguished by lapidary expression, telegraphic terseness, and finely tuned sensitivity” (Bookforum). In On a Day Like This, Stamm’s unobtrusive observational style allows us to journey with our antihero through his crises of banality, of living in his empty world, and the realization that life is finite—that one must live it, as long as that is possible.

Praise for Unformed Landscape:

“Sensitive and unnerving. . . . An uncommonly intimate work, one that will remind the reader of his or her own lived experience with a greater intensity than many of the books that are published right here at home.” —The New Republic Online

“If Albert Camus had lived in an age when people in remote Norwegian fishing villages had e-mail, he might have written a novel like this.”—The New Yorker

“Unformed Landscape has a refreshing purity, a lack of delusion, a lack of hype.”—Los Angeles Times

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