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    Original Essays | September 17, 2014

    Merritt Tierce: IMG Has My Husband Read It?

    My first novel, Love Me Back, was published on September 16. Writing the book took seven years, and along the way three chapters were published in... Continue »

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Reading Group Guide

1. Time figures prominently in Kay's and Benjamin's relationship (e.g., "Now was their time." --page 72; "They spent far more time keeping away from each other than they ever did together." --page 80). Has time, as Kay puts it, "saturated [the] relations between [Kay and Benjamin] with more meaning, not less" (page 9)? From the moment of Benjamin's first touch, linear time seems to collapse for Kay: "The moment was split for an instant by the future. It was always an unnerving sight, the future. It was uncertain. But during revelatory moments like this, the future asked for a quick consideration to test her orientation. Would this revelation take her where she hoped to go?" (page 32). Do relationships defy the normal laws of time? Does time work for or against Kay?

2. Is it true for Kay and Benjamin that "the only things truly in the past are things completely forgotten" (page 47)? What power does memory have over their relationship?

3. By reliving their relationship in their minds, Kay and Benjamin seem almost to experience it in separate but parallel universes. Where do their experiences intersect? How do Kay's and Benjamin's versions of the same events differ? For example, their conversation at the Christmas party (page 83) made an impression on both of them, but for different reasons. To what extent is either one aware of the other's point of view? If not, how does this perception or awareness affect their relationship?

4. Minot utilizes a relatively brief act of sex during which the ex-lovers mentally span the whole of a three-year relationship. Is this device effective? Are their respective recollections colored by their respective states of sexual arousal over the course of the novel? Is the particular sex act in which Kay and Benjamin are engaged fitting in light of their past or is it somehow ironic? How does the resolution of this one act relate to the resolution of their relationship?

5. Would Kay define love as simply "to give everything out and not ask for anything back" (page 98)? What might be Benjamin's definition of love?

6. Why does Kay leave Angus (see pages 86—88)? What is Kay seeking in a relationship? Is she looking for "comfort" (page 41) or to escape the "dread" of "what is going to become of [her]" (p. 36)? Does Benjamin offer what Angus did not or could not? Does Kay's happiness depend on the man she is with? What about self-regard?

7. Can the reader believe Benjamin was really in love with Kay, if to him their relationship was really just something "Vanessa would have blown . . . way out of proportion" (page 35)? Is Vanessa's total acceptance of him (page 60) something Kay cannot offer Benjamin? To whom is Benjamin referring when he thinks that the bridge to goodness "had burst into fire when he'd not been able to change his life for a person he loved" (page 111)? Does Benjamin's happiness turn on the woman he is with? What about his self-esteem?

8. Compare Kay's character to what the reader learns of Vanessa's character in the brief descriptions on pages 34 and 39. To what attributes is Benjamin attracted in each of them? How do Kay and Vanessa each differ from Benjamin's ideal woman (page 95)?

9. What is Benjamin really like? Minot writes at the conclusion that for Benjamin there "came a further sinking feeling, lower than all the other ones before it. A sharp little truth hunched there. Whatever goodness he thought he might have had was turning out to be less than he might have hoped" (page 114). Has his character changed, or is it just his self-awareness that has evolved?

10. What do Kay's sexual fantasies, which include "doing the job of a whore" (page 36) and finding that "her slavelike posture was arousing" and imagining "him saying crude things" to her (page 91), reveal about her? What is Kay really longing for when she thinks "If she was lucky he would break her and demean her into oblivion" (page 104)? Is "oblivion" the only way Kay can feel? Does Benjamin oblige?

11. Is Kay describing herself when she says: "[W]recks were often more likely to give a high priority to sex" (page 88)? Is her statement confined to men, or does it apply to men and women? How does sex confuse and complicate Kay's emotions? Are Kay's physical needs separable from her emotional ones? Can sex provide the merging of the physical and the emotional for Kay? For Benjamin?

12. Many of Kay's and Benjamin's musings are on gender differences. Did you find yourself agreeing with one or the other's view of gender differences? Is it the gender differences themselves that affect their relationship or their perception of gender differences? To what extent is their relationship a metaphor for all relationships between men and women?

13. Benjamin and Kay each have careers in movie-making, a producer and a production designer respectively. How do their careers symbolically reflect their romantic relationship? How else does Minot utilize the movie motif in Rapture? Where does Minot situate the reader vis-à-vis Kay's and Benjamin's mental replaying of their relationship?

14. One of the sections told from Benjamin's viewpoint is simply "He kept his eyes closed. He felt as if he were whirling down a drain" (page 65). Minot frequently employs such analogies at the conclusion of each section. (See, for example, page 38, page 43, and page 45). How do these analogies serve to underscore the point of each section?

Product Details

Minot, Susan
Short Stories (single author)
Man-woman relationships
Psychological fiction
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
fiction;novel;contemporary fiction
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Vintage Contemporaries
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.06x5.26x.36 in. .30 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Erotica » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Rapture New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$12.75 In Stock
Product details 132 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780375727887 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Minot has a great ear for the callow way people talk, scrupulously mimicking their groping thoughts and at times making a poetry of their inarticulateness." Publishers Weekly
"Review" by , "Minot reaches a new level in her career....Brimming with stylistic and emotional intelligence."
"Review" by , "A loose and discursive novella by Minot, who manages here to ramble on a pretty good ways in remarkably few pages."
"Review" by , "Sex and the single girl have seldom been absent from Susan Minot's fiction. Her second collection, let's recall, was titled Lust & Other Stories (1989), and even her 1992 period piece, Folly, included the odd glimpse of Edwardian canoodling. Still, Minot has raised the erotic ante with Rapture, structuring this short novel around a single act of fellatio....Rapture, in fact, would make an excellent argument for abstinence, were it not for the genuine allure of Minot's prose. Her ruminations on modern romance have an old-fashioned glow to them, while the graphic bits manage to evoke James Salter's sublimely lyrical French postcard, A Sport and a Pastime. And despite her half-ironic title, sex in Minot's fiction is at least a temporary sacrament?and anything but safe." (read the entire Atlantic Montly review)
"Review" by , "Rapture is a provacative and sensuous novella, a 114-page literary flourish...[Minot's] language has a muscular swagger uncommon in fiction by women, and her characters have peculiar opacities more typical of novels of another era. What makes Rapture utterly contemporary is the absence of true romance at its cold, cold heart."
"Review" by , "A disconcerting examination of love and war between the sexes."
"Review" by , "Minot's timeless, and she makes you feel its pure, raw ache....Rapture is erotic, but more: it's romantic in the true sense of the word."
"Review" by , "Explores a tragic irony of love and sex: how one partner can reach the heights of devotion at the very instant the other is dumped into the pits of despair."
"Review" by , "Mesmerizing...provocative."
"Review" by , "In Minot's writing, one is often reminded of Henry James. Like James, she pursues the filaments of emotion that almost escape language....Minot's writing [is] beautiful, evocative, and self-assured."
"Review" by , "A splendid piece of narrative sleight-of-hand...that further confirms Minot's place among our finest novelists."
"Review" by , "I would challenge any reader to read this and not find moments of gut-wrenching truth, as if Minot had looked straight into each of our hearts."
"Review" by , "In language simultaneously rich and spare....[Rapture] has a muscular swagger uncommon in fiction by women."
"Review" by , "Minot takes an insightful, intelligent, humorous look at the tangled mess of modern love."
"Review" by , "[Minot] draws the reader in with subtle strokes of mood and atmosphere and with her ability to express so much in so few words."
"Review" by , "You get the sense that Minot has lived every moment, spoken every syllable, felt every emotion. The weird thing is: so have you."
"Synopsis" by , Minot's audacious new novel builds on the achievement of Monkeys and the bestselling Evening to explore the multiple nuances of a single sexual act. Honest and unflinching, the result is a hypnotic reading experience.
"Synopsis" by , The setting is a New York apartment where two long-estranged lovers try to resuscitate their passion. Kay is old enough to be skeptical about men-this man in particular-but still alert to the possibility of true love. Benjamin is a filmmaker with an appealing waywardness and a conveniently disappearing fiancée. As the two lie entwined in bed, Susan Minot ushers readers across an entire landscape of memory and sensation to reveal the infinite nuances of sex: its power to exalt and deceive, to connect two separate selves or make them fully aware of their solitude. Honest and unflinching, the result is a hypnotic reading experience.
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