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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

The Great Night


The Great Night Cover

ISBN13: 9780374166410
ISBN10: 0374166412
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. The books epigraph is taken from lines spoken by Shakespeares Titania to the laborer Nick Bottom, who has been magically transformed into an ass. Under a spell, Titania has fallen in love with the donkey-headed Bottom. Is fairy life as comfortable as she says it is? Is mortal love a kind of spell, too, as Molly, Henry, and Will experience it?

2. The grim reality of the pediatric oncology ward illuminates the splendor of Titania and Oberons world. What does their experience with the Boy demonstrate about parenting, and about the limits of a parent who seems to have unlimited resources? What is good and bad about Titania and Oberons parenting? In what way do Beadle and Blork become like parents to the parents?

3. If youre familiar with A Midsummer Nights Dream, compare it to The Great Night. How do real and imaginary realms influence each other in both works? Do the authors have the same approach to despondent lovers?

4. As Molly mourns for Ryan, is her familys religious history, along with her botched chaplain internship, a help or a hindrance?

5. How does Henrys abduction affect his relationship with Bobby? What is left of Henrys identity after Bobby leaves? How did you react to the crossroads between Henrys and Ryans youth?

6. What do Wills parents teach him about relationships and love? Which of their lessons does he unlearn with Carolina?

7. How might the novel have unfolded if it had been told from the other lovers points of view: Bobby, Carolina, and (from the grave) Ryan?

8. Do the mayor and Titania have similar problems as rulers?

9. Just as Shakespeare presents a play within a play, staged by Bottom, Adrian imagines a homeless performance of the 1973 cult classic Soylent Green, which is set in a dismal 2022, featuring a world consumed by overpopulation, the greenhouse effect, and a reliance on processed food rations (Soylent Green). How does it affect your reading to watch fiction unfold inside fiction?

10. How did you picture the frightening, unleashed beast? How did you feel when the fear was resolved, and Henry and Titania came to their resolution? What do you suppose the squirrel will tell Bobby?

11. Enchanting, liberating, yet gritty, how do San Francisco and Buena Vista Park mirror the characters in The Great Night?

12. How do love and longing manifest themselves differently in the novels two worlds? Whether the characters are mortal or not, what are the greatest sources of oppression and freedom in their lives?

13. Chris Adrian has compared The Great Night to a mixture of “odd-tasting foreign candies.” Which of the many tiny feasts in this novel was the most appealing to you?

14. What aspects of The Great Night echo the struggles captured in Adrians previous fiction (Gobs Grief, featuring Walt Whitman and Victoria Woodhull; The Childrens Hospital, invoking Noahs Ark; and A Better Angel, a story collection in which the characters contemplate the metaphysical)? Which aspects of The Great Night are unlike anything you have read before?

15. If your world were inhabited by fairies, what would they want from you? How would they manifest themselves in your workplace, your neighborhood, and your love life?

Reading group guide written by Amy Clements / Amy Roots Wordshop, Inc.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Linda Schreiber, January 2, 2012 (view all comments by Linda Schreiber)
This book is an exquisite balance of almosts: an elegant balance between almost total despair and brief moments of almost ecstasy; almost real and almost absurd; and almost evil and almost godly. Although I could not see myself in either the mortals, who were braver and more ridiculous than I can imagine, or the gods, who were brazen in their hedonism and intensely passionate or intensely indifferent in even the smallest matters. But I can see that as often as I was annoyed or repulsed, I was far more delighted that I was able to go on their journey and share their adventures.
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Product Details

A Novel
Adrian, Chris
Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends
Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
Literature-A to Z
Mythology-Folklore and Storytelling
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Humanities » Mythology » Folklore and Storytelling

The Great Night Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Farrar, Straus and Giroux - English 9780374166410 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Chris Adrian's inimitable flair for creating fantastic worlds just around the corner from our everyday routines is on full display in this modern adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream. No one is better at mingling such searing emotion with whimsical flights of fancy, making The Great Night an utterly captivating read.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Adrian follows his masterful The Children's Hospital with a disappointing and decidedly less ambitious effort, a flabby retelling of A Midsummer Night's Dream that finds a heartbroken Titania loosening a demonic Puck on San Francisco's Buena Vista Park. Caught up in the mayhem are Henry, a neurotic gay man whose affair has just ended; Molly, a young woman turned inward after the suicide of her boyfriend; Will, a lovelorn tree doctor trying to get his lady back; and a group staging a musical remake of Soylent Green to explain the decline of San Francisco's homeless population. Adrian liberally applies surreal sex jokes and populates his adventure with bizarre fairies, impossible events, and extensive backstories, but this investigation into love's labors never ignites. Adrian occasionally channels the wayward, winsome feel of millennial San Francisco, but his characters remains wispy and his plot fails to develop satisfying turns. The book contains flashes of what makes this writer great, but he has better work in him. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , The Great Night — by turns brilliant, cruel, tenderhearted, visionary, poetic, and profane — is Adrian’s ambitious attempt to fetch from his own imagination what Shakespeare referred to as ‘jewels from the deep.’”
"Review" by , “William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream deals with illusion — in particular, the illusion that things can be set aright, as if by magic. This riff by New Yorker 20 Under 40 author Adrian (A Better Angel) is a whole lot darker, declaring that no magic can take away the memory of suffering and that in our self-serving scramble we disdain the pain (and indeed the goodness) of others.....Inventive and scarily beautiful...it is an extraordinary novel.” (starred review)
"Synopsis" by ,

Acclaimed as a “gifted, courageous writer”(The New York Times), Chris Adrian brings all his extraordinary talents to bear in The Great Night—a brilliant and mesmerizing retelling of Shakespeares “A Midsummer Nights Dream.”

On Midsummer Eve 2008, three people, each on the run from a failed relationship, become trapped in San Franciscos Buena Vista Park, the secret home of Titania, Oberon, and their court. On this night, something awful is happening in the faerie kingdom: in a fit of sadness over the end of her marriage, which broke up in the wake of the death of her adopted son, Titania has set loose an ancient menace, and the chaos that ensues will threaten the lives of immortals and mortals alike.

Selected by The New Yorker as one the best young writers in America, Adrian has created a singularly playful, heartbreaking, and humorous novel—a story that charts the borders between reality and dreams, love and magic, and mortality and immortality.

"Synopsis" by ,
Chris Adrians magical third novel is a mesmerizing reworking of Shakespeares A Midsummer Nights Dream. On Midsummers Eve 2008, three brokenhearted people become lost in San Franciscos Buena Vista Park, the secret home of Titania, Oberon, and their court. On this night, something awful is happening in the faerie kingdom: in a fit of sadness over the end of her marriage and the death of her adopted son, Titania has set loose an ancient menace, and the chaos that ensues upends the lives of immortals and mortals alike in a story that is playful, darkly funny, and poignant.
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