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Love Is a Canoe

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Love Is a Canoe Cover

ISBN13: 9780374192495
ISBN10: 0374192499
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. How did your impressions of Eli and Emily shift throughout the novel? How does their marriage compare with Peter and Lisas?

2. What does the novel say about love in the twenty-first century? Have expectations for relationships changed very much since the 1960s and 70s?

3. How were Emily and her sister, Sherry, affected by their mothers experience as a wife?

4. Discuss Marriage Is a Canoe as if you had chosen it for your book group. Is Peters advice relevant to your situation? What inspiration can you take from his grandparents Hank and Bess? What metaphors, besides a canoe, would you use for marriage?

5. Peter and Helena talk candidly about the illusions and untested advice contained in Marriage Is a Canoe. Do self-help books have to be steeped in facts and reality in order to be helpful? Was Emily harmed by the fantasy of a watertight marriage?

6. In “Stolen Bases,” Peter tells the story of his friend Johnny, whose parents had a rough marriage but whose problems were easily sorted out by Hank. Why did Peters parents struggle so much in their relationship, despite the great role models of Hank and Bess?

7. What are the essential differences between Jenny and Emily? What does Eli need from each of them? Would you have stayed with Eli for as long as Emily did? Are he and Peter evidence that monogamy is unnatural, especially for men?

8. How did the success of the book help and harm Peter and Lisas marriage? How does Peters enterprise compare with Elis ambition for Roman Street Bicycles? How involved do spouses need to be in each others professional lives?

9. What kept Peter and Lisa together for so many years, despite severe disappointments, especially financial ones? How would the story of their marriage unfold if it were described from her point of view?

10. How does Belinda figure in Peters life? How does he see his role as a parent? When Eli and Emily considered becoming parents, what were their motivations?

11. During the contest award dinner, Peter prefers harmony and reconciliation, quashing any unpleasant topics that Eli and Emily try to raise. Does he prove to be a good counselor? What would you have discussed with him if you had won the contest?

12. Why is it hard for Peter to commit to moving west with Maddie? What was he ultimately looking for in a relationship?

13. Why is Stella so intent on pleasing Helena? What does the Canoe project teach Stella about business and about love? What do you predict for her future with Ivan?

14. Reread the novels conclusion (the introduction to the revised, annotated, and retitled edition of Peters book). What do you make of the statement that “love is not so fickle and mean—not as tough as marriage can be,” and the idea that love is distinct from marriage?

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

YongJae, February 22, 2013 (view all comments by YongJae)
At first, I thought I would not like the book, that it would be too hokey and folksy for me. In fact, the opposite happened. I fell in love with it. It rings so true and the couple could be any one of a million of us. The book tells the story from Emily's point of view, Peter's, and Peter's publisher. We get a first-hand view of the clawing and cat fighting int the publishing industry and for those involved in this enterprise, it rings pretty true. This is a wonderful book.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780374192495
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Schrank, Ben
Publisher:
Sarah Crichton Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Romance - Contemporary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20130108
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Love Is a Canoe Used Hardcover
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$12.50 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Sarah Crichton Books - English 9780374192495 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Three stories of personal and literary authenticity weave through this novel of love and books that gets sharper and smarter as it progresses. Forty years ago, Peter Herman penned Love Is a Canoe, a memoir and meditation on marriage that retains a devoted following. Canoe's homilies from Peter's adolescent summer spent in upstate New York with his grandparents as his own parents' marriage crumbled contain a certain enduring quality: 'A good marriage is a canoe — it needs care and isn't meant to hold too much — no more than two adults and a couple of kids.' But as the recently widowed author ponders the course of his marriage and current relationship, straining against late-middle age, there's a danger that his personal and literary fictions will unravel. The danger grows acute when Stella, a young book editor trying to spur sales on Canoe's 40th anniversary, creates a contest for a couple in trouble; winners will spend an afternoon with the somewhat reclusive author in the hopes that their troubled relationship will be rescued. But as Emily and Eli Corelli, a young Brooklyn couple with a rocky marriage, enter Peter's orbit, they, Peter, and Stella confront the underlying truths of their lives. The honesty doled out as events unspool is bracing and frank, and give these characters added depth and wisdom. This is the third novel from Schrank (after Miracle Man), president and publisher of Razorbill. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME Entertainment." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , “With brilliant subtlety, Schrank reveals the ways that popular bromides about marriage can impede true connection and longlasting love. Love Is a Canoe is a sharply funny, beautifully original novel filled with tough-minded characters, great dialogue, and a riveting plot.”
"Review" by , "I don't think of myself as loving particular kinds of fiction, but this book made me realize I do: fiction, for instance, like this — smart, darkly funny (but not jokey) books that are knowing and wise but a little skeptical of knowingness and the possibility of wisdom. Love Is a Canoe would join Martin Amis's The Information and Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys on my shelf devoted to terrific satirical novels about writers and publishing, if I had such a shelf."
"Review" by , "Love Is a Canoe captures the most essential difficulties of marriage and commitment — our fears of love and loss. A brilliant book of do-overs and second chances, Schrank's novel is mordantly funny and an all-too-real meditation on modern life."
"Review" by , "Love Is a Canoe takes a good look at the world of self-help and both mocks and embraces our dearest and corniest desires. Ben Schrank's terrific new novel is a real self-help book, and you should help yourself to it."
"Review" by , "It's not surprising that Ben Schrank would produce a witty, insightful novel about the world of publishing. The real revelation here is how wise Schrank is while navigating the far more complicated terrain of love and human relationships. Love Is a Canoe is a wonderful and deceptively breezy novel — heartfelt and wise; light as feathers, strong as iron."
"Review" by , "Schrank has done something here that may sound impossible: He's written a funny novel about publishing that is not caustic but optimistic, not biting but bighearted — a story about the delusions with which self-aware, smart people are all too willing to live in order to avoid the painful (yet entertaining) upheaval that comes with truth."
"Review" by , "Schrank has firm command of the story, never letting the plot turns descend into farce, and the closing pages are a convincing portrait of how relationships shift in ways no self-help book can anticipate. A wise imagining of modern-day love, unromantic but never cynical."
"Synopsis" by , The author of a classic self-help guide to love and relationships, Peter Herman has won the hearts of romantics and cynics alike. But decades have passed since Marriage Is a Canoe was published, and a recently widowed Peter begins to question his own advice. Much to his chagrin, he receives a call from Stella Petrovic, an ambitious young editor in New York City who forces him to reconsider his lifes work, not to mention the full force of his delusions. The books fiftieth anniversary is approaching, and Petrovic has devised a contest to promote the new edition. The prize? The chance for the winning couple—a pair of outwardly happy Brooklynites named Emily and Eli—to save their relationship by spending a weekend with the reclusive author.

Smart, funny, and hugely satisfying, Ben Schrank's Love Is a Canoe is a poignant novel about the fragility of human relationships—and a heartwarming reminder of what it really means to be good to those we love.

"Synopsis" by , Peter Herman is something of a folk hero. Marriage Is a Canoe, his legendary, decades-old book on love and relationships, has won the hearts of hope­ful romantics and desperate cynics alike. He and his beloved wife lived a relatively peaceful life in upstate New York. But now its 2010, and Peters wife has just died. Completely lost, he passes the time with a woman he admires but doesnt love—and he begins to look back through the pages of his book and question hom­ilies such as:

A good marriage is a canoe—it needs care and isnt meant to hold too much—no more than two adults and a few kids.

Its advice he has famously doled out for decades. But what is it worth?

Then Peter receives a call from Stella Petrovic, an ambitious young editor who wants to celebrate the fif­tieth anniversary of Marriage Is a Canoe with a contest for struggling couples. The prize? An afternoon with Peter and a chance to save their relationship.

The contest ensnares its creator in the largely opaque politics of her publishing house while it intro­duces the reader to couples in various states of distress, including a shy thirtysomething Brooklynite and her charismatic and entrepreneurial husband, who may just be a bit too charismatic for the good of their marriage. Theres the middle-aged publisher whose im­posing manner has managed to impose loneliness on her for longer than she cares to admit. And then there is Peter, who must discover what he meant when he wrote Marriage Is a Canoe if he is going to help the contests winners and find a way to love again.

In Love Is a Canoe, Ben Schrank delivers a smart, funny, romantic, and hugely satisfying novel about the fragility of marriage and the difficulty of repairing the damage when well-intentioned people forget how to be good to each other.

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