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Red Weatherby Pauls Toutonghi
Reading Group Guide
1. What was your opinion of Yuris father, Rudolfi? Did your feelings about him change as you read the book?
2. Why do you think Yuri started selling the Socialist Worker?
3. “I slipped in and out of a dream in which Hannah and I were at a picnic, drinking wine and eating sandwiches on delicious French bread. The bread was unbelievably fresh and the sandwiches were made from the finest-quality meats and cheeses. But the more we ate, the larger the sandwiches became. I couldnt stop eating, I knew, because then Id lose Hannah. So I ate and sweated and ate and sweated and ate” (page 178). What does Yuris dream reveal about his feelings for Hannah?
4. Of the many colorful characters in the book, which one or ones stood out for you? Why?
5. Discuss the relationship between Yuri and his father. Would you describe it as typical? If so, in what respects? If not, why?
6. The city of Milwaukee holds a special place in Rudolfis heart: “He loved Milwaukee. It was his city, his adopted city, and the center of his life in his adopted country” (page 26). But in 1989, Milwaukee was in a depressed economic and social state. What are some parallels between the city and Rudolfis state of mind?
7. “I was drawn to him, inexplicably drawn” (page 128). What do you think is behind Yuris attraction to Eriks?
8. Part 2 of the novel begins with an excerpt of a poem by Wallace Stevens, “Disillusionment of Ten OClock” (page 105). What does this poem mean in terms of the events of Red Weather?
9. How are Erikss and Yuris fathers alike and different? How might these similarities and disparities explain why Yuri is fascinated by Eriks but rejects his own father?
10. The fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 is one of the storys central backdrops. How does the author use this event metaphorically?
11. What role does alcohol-and its abuses-play in the story?
12. At several points in the novel, Yuri goes along as another person engages in reckless behavior, against his own better judgment and to disastrous results. Why is Yuri so willing to do dangerous things?
13. The balcony in the Balodiss apartment figures prominently in the story. What does the balcony best symbolize: a precipice, a gateway, a refuge, or something else?
14. What did you think when Rudolfis true identity is revealed in the epilogue? Did it come as a surprise? If so, why? If not, at what other points in the novel did you find hints about Rudolfis former life?
15. What does the books title mean?
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