No Words Wasted Sale

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Interviews | January 9, 2015

    Chris Faatz: IMG Jill Maxick of Prometheus Books: The Interview

    For decades, Prometheus Books has put out titles we both love and respect. Prometheus is the leading publisher in the United States of books on free... Continue »

Qualifying orders ship free.
Used Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

America America


America America Cover

ISBN13: 9780679456803
ISBN10: 0679456805
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

Only 1 left in stock at $3.95!



Reading Group Guide

1. This novel makes many assertions about the American political landscape in the early 1970s. What are some of those assertions? In what ways have American politics changed since then? And how does Henry Bonwiller compare to todays politicians, in terms of his political demeanor and beliefs as well as in his sense of both personal and public morality? 

2. Structurally, the novel is braided from several strands–the political story, the personal story, the story about economic class and social station, and the story of the town itself. Which of these stories, in your opinion, provides the novels bulwark? How does each contribute to the novels themes? 

3. Corey has two father figures in the novel, his own father and Liam Metarey. Despite the differences in their social and economic stations, the men are similar in several ways. How? How do the two of them influence the man that Corey becomes? 

4. Very early in the novel, an elderly man hobbles to the grave of Senator Henry Bonwiller, where he breaks down and weeps. Corey says he recognizes the man but never reveals a name. Why not? Who is this man? Why is it important to Corey that he is weeping? Why are we left to discover for ourselves the mans identity? 

5. Trieste Millbury, the intern at The Speaker-Sentinel, clearly reminds Corey of himself. What role does she play in Coreys retelling of his past with the Metarey family? Why does he tell her his story? 

6. At one point in the novel, Corey says: “It struck me again, the way it had just begun to do in those days, how diligently privilege had to work to remain oblivious to its cost.” Then he adds, “Im speaking of myself now, too, of course.” What are the costs, both to himself and others, of the privileges that have been bestowed upon Corey? Has he in fact worked to remain oblivious to these costs? 

7. Newspapers play an important role in Coreys life–in their pages, he first learns about politics, and during the Bonwiller campaign he becomes obsessed by journalism and journalists; he interacts with reporters like Glenn Burrant and G. V. Trawbridge in significant ways; and, of course, in the end he becomes a newsman himself. In what ways has news reporting changed during the span of this novel–from the time of Eoghan Metareys rise, through Coreys childhood, up until the present day? In what ways has it remained consistent? What effects have these changes and these consistencies had on our democracy? 

8. In a key scene near the conclusion of the book, Liam Metarey makes a gruesome discovery, then a fateful decision, while driving his tractor through an apple orchard in a blizzard. Why, after making this discovery, does he make this decision? The scene is a pivotal one, yet Corey is not in fact present when it takes place. Since nobody has explicitly told him what happened, Coreys depiction of the events seems to come largely, or perhaps entirely, from his imagination. What evidence does Corey have for what he deduces? Has Liam Metarey attempted to communicate to him what has occurred? If so, when? And what else might he have been trying to explain to Corey? 

9. In many ways, the interactions of important characters drive the circumstances that result in Liam Metareys death. Do you think the principal catalyst for his actions and death was JoEllen Charney? Henry Bonwiller? Andrew Metarey? Or was it something deeper in Liams character? 

10. Coreys description of the relationship between the town of Saline and the Metarey family is one of mutual trust and dependence. How does this relationship change over time, especially with respect to the influence of larger social forces like unionization and the rise of giant corporations? How does the opinion each party has of the other change over time? 

11. Though Corey mentions his wife numerous times early in the text, the reader does not learn who he has married until much later. What is the purpose of delaying this information? And why, when Corey finally reveals his wifes identity, does he do it with so little fanfare? What is the significance of the information Corey shares with the reader and the information he omits, not only in regard to Clara but to other plot elements as well? Is it fair for Corey to withhold vital parts of his story? Does he leave clues about them nonetheless? 

12. More than once in the novel, the narrator mentions a quotation from Francis Bacon: “If a man shall begin in certainties, he shall end in doubts.” How is this idea reflected in the lives of Liam Metarey, Eoghan Metarey, Granger Sifter, Henry Bonwiller, and Corey? Bacon was no doubt referring to the advent of the scientific method during the seventeenth century, but how might his words apply to our current culture? 

13. Throughout the novel, Corey remembers and retells past events without adhering to chronological order. How does the lack of a linear chronology influence the readers experience? Is there a logic to the manner in which he recalls the scenes? Why does he tell the story like this?  

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Aimala02, January 20, 2010 (view all comments by Aimala02)
One day 16-year old Corey Sifter is living a quiet, sheltered life with his mother and father in the town of Saline, New York. The next day he is offered a job as a groundskeeper on the estate of Liam Metarey, the wealthiest man in the County. Suddenly, Corey is surrounded by wealth, power and prestige, a life completely different from the one he's known. When Mr. Metarey decides to manage the campaign of Senator Bonwiller in his run for the presidency, Corey sees a side of American life he knows nothing about, politics.
The author does a wonderful job painting the details of the pain and difficulties, joys and sorrows that make up Corey's journey from the 16 year old working class boy to the successful journalist and publisher, father and husband he becomes. He does this while pulling off the difficult trick of taking fictional characters and placing them among real people and events in America's history. He weaves history and fiction seamlessly together: Senator Bonwiller vies for the nomination of the Democratic party against Muskie and Humphrey. President Richard Nixon is in office. The Vietnam War rages and affects the people of Corey's town, making this era of our collective history a very real part of the story, not just background.
Ethan Canin has written a rich, complex story about power, loyalty, love, corruption and relationships. The style of “America America” is somewhat reminiscent of Richard Russo, (one of my favorite authors) in that it is set in a small town during a pivotal time in America and spans generations. America is changing on scales both small and large. Changes that profoundly affect the main characters. It is a beautifully written, compelling story that is difficult to put down but the reader would do well to read it slowly, savoring its depths and nuances.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
ryanpjj, November 25, 2009 (view all comments by ryanpjj)
I had never heard of Ethan Canin before finding this book in my local library. I picked it up when I read the review on the back of the book by Robert Russo when he said something like "read this book and weep, not only for what we have lost, but for how we lost it". Elegaic!

This is an amazing piece of work - epic and homely simultaneously. It is a wonderfully homespun tale, paradoxically replete with internationally known characters and deprecatingly observed historical context, reminiscent in style of Scott-Fitzgerald at his laconic, Gatsby-esq best and yet plotted like a Ludlum blockbuster, a character or historical twist every few pages. Yes, there is that keen sense of loss for both a personal childhood/society and a national era, but there is an uplifting thread of the narrator's humanity and acceptance of necessary change that links that lost past with the present's compromises and avoids any danger of maudlin retrospective. This novel is nothing less than the prose homage to Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Read it while listening to LZ's Kashmir and be uplifted!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

A Novel
Canin, Ethan
Random House
United states
Rich people
United States Politics and government.
General Fiction
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.50x6.62x1.43 in. 1.78 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. The Yiddish Policemen's Union (P.S.)
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  2. The Farm to Table Cookbook: The Art... Used Hardcover $7.50
  3. The Lace Reader
    Used Hardcover $2.95
  4. Attack of the Theater People Used Trade Paper $2.95
  5. American Wife
    Used Hardcover $5.95
  6. Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches...
    Used Trade Paper $7.50

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

America America Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.95 In Stock
Product details 480 pages Random House - English 9780679456803 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

America America is a sweeping, epic story that more fully explores themes Canin has written about previously — class, politics, fatherhood, wealth, and power — in a seamless and beautiful multigenerational American saga. Both an important work and a page-turning summer read, especially in this election year, it is a powerful reminder about what is great, and what is broken, within our country.

"Review A Day" by , "It's refreshing — and almost quaint — to see someone try to write a Great American Novel in the 21st century. These days, writers are more apt to pursue the Great American Screenplay or the Not-So-Great American Ironic, Postmodern Fiction. But Ethan Canin's sixth book, with its flag-waving title, America America, is a big, ambitious, old-fashioned, quintessentially American novel about politics, power, ambition, class, ethics and loyalty." (read the entire Los Angeles Times review)
"Review" by , "This novel of powerful and haunting, a major work....It's the journey, not the arrival, that matters, and the journey is an enthralling one."
"Review" by , "Ethan Canin's best novel... Canin, who teaches at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, has written before about the seductive and transformative power of people with extraordinary wealth, but never with such sensitivity.... We've waited a long time for a worthy successor to Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, and it couldn't have arrived at a more auspicious moment than this season of potentially epochal political change."
"Review" by , "[A] summer novel that will have you turning pages faster than Barack Obama is pocketing delegates....America America is a timely, engaging novel about power and influence in the land of opportunity. In Canin's adept hands, the tale makes for a lively summer read against a backdrop of true political meanderings that, we can only hope, never escalates to the tragedy and intensity of Canin's Saline, N.Y."
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at