Summer Reading Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Original Essays | July 22, 2014

Nick Harkaway: IMG The Florist-Assassins



The three men lit up in my mind's eye, with footnotes. They were converging on me — and on the object I was carrying — in a way that had... Continue »
  1. $18.87 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Tigerman

    Nick Harkaway 9780385352413

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$5.95
List price: $16.00
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
2 Beaverton Literature- A to Z
3 Burnside Literature- A to Z
1 Remote Warehouse Literature- A to Z

Fugitive Pieces

by

Fugitive Pieces Cover

ISBN13: 9780679776598
ISBN10: 0679776591
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

 

 

Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of Anne Michaels's Fugitive Pieces. We hope they will aid your understanding of the many rich themes that make up this radiant and lyrical first novel by one of Canada's foremost poets.

1. Why is the first section of the novel entitled "The Drowned City?" Why is the title repeated for a later section?

2. Jakob says that Athos's fascination with Antarctica "was to become our azimuth. It was to direct the course of our lives" [33]. Why do you think Antarctica obsessed Athos? How does the story of the Scott expedition relate to that of Athos and Jakob? Do you agree with Jakob that Athos's fascination directed their lives?

3. "When the prisoners were forced to dig up the mass graves, the dead entered them through their pores and were carried through their bloodstreams to their brains and hearts. And through their blood into another generation" [52], Jakob writes, and later, "It's no metaphor to feel the influence of the dead in the world" [53]. How does the theme of the dead's influence on the living work itself out in the course of the novel?

4. The communist partisans in Greece, who had valiantly resisted the occupying Nazis, themselves committed terrible atrocities after the war, as Kostas and Daphne relate. Do you agree with their theory that violence is like an illness that can be caught, and that the Greeks caught it from the Germans [72]? What other explanations can be offered?

5. "I already knew the power of language to destroy, to omit, to obliterate," says Jakob. "But poetry, the power of language to restore: this was what both Athos and Kostas were trying to teach me" [79]. What instances does the novel give of the destructive power of language? In what ways does writing--both the writing of poetry and of translations--help to heal and restore Jakob? Does silence--the cessation of language--have its own function, and if so, what might it be?

6. "We were a vine and a fence. But who was the vine? We would both have answered differently" [108]. Here Jakob is speaking of his relationship with Athos; of what other relationships in the novel might this metaphor be used? Does Michaels imply that dependence is an integral part of love?

7. What is it about Alex's character that attracts Jakob and makes him fall in love with her? Why does he eventually find life with her impossible? Do you find Alex a sympathetic character, or an unpleasant one?

8. "History is amoral: events occurred. But memory is moral" [138]. "Every moment is two moments" [161]. How does Jakob define and differentiate history and memory? Can you see Fugitive Pieces as a comparison of history and memory?

9. Music is an important element of Fugitive Pieces, and it is central to the lives of at least three of the characters, Bella, Alex, and Naomi. What does music mean to each of these characters? Why has Michaels given music such a prominent metaphoric role in the novel?

10. What does Fugitive Pieces say about the condition of being an immigrant? Jakob never feels truly at home anywhere, even in Greece. Ben's parents feel that their toehold in their new home is infinitely precarious, an emotion that communicates itself to Ben. Does Michaels imply that real integration is impossible?

11. Can you explain the very different reactions Ben's parents have had to their experience in the Holocaust? What in their characters has determined the differing ways they respond to grief and loss?

12. The relationship between Ben and Naomi is a troubled one. Why is he angry at her for her closeness to his parents and her attention to their graves? Why does he reject her by leaving for Greece without her? How can you explain his intense desire for Petra--is his need purely physical? How do Petra and Naomi differ? What is the significance of their names?

13. Science has as important a role in the novel as poetry and music. Why is geology so important to Athos, meteorology to Ben? Does science represent a standard of disinterested truth, or does it merely symbolize the world's terrifying contingency?

14. Why might Jakob have named his collection of poems Groundwork, and in what way does that title relate to his life? Jakob calls his young self a "bog-boy" [5]. Why does Ben take such an interest in the preserved bog people he reads about [221]?

15. The last line of the novel is Ben's: "I see that I must give what I most need." What does he mean by this? What does he most need, what will he give, and to whom?

16. What is the significance of the novel's title? What do "pieces," or "fragments," mean within Michaels's scheme? Where in the novel can you find references to fragments?

What Our Readers Are Saying

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

cindy nelson, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by cindy nelson)
Simply one of the most beautiful books I have ever read!!! It is so lyrical and just wonderful! A definite "must-read"! Gorgeous!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
adisrad, January 20, 2011 (view all comments by adisrad)
This is absolutely the most spectacular novel I've ever read. It's so powerful to see into the consciousness of lives forever changed by the Holocaust. Beautifully written. Extremely moving. Don't go another day without reading this novel.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780679776598
Author:
Michaels, Anne
Publisher:
Vintage Books USA
Location:
New York :
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
World war, 1939-1945
Subject:
War
Subject:
World War, 19
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
War stories
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage International
Publication Date:
19980531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.02x5.20x.64 in. .49 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. In the memory of the forest :a novel Used Mass Market $5.95
  2. The Reawakening: The Companion... Used Trade Paper $7.95
  3. Nature of Blood Used Hardcover $3.95
  4. The Idea of Perfection Used Trade Paper $3.95
  5. Interpreter of Maladies
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  6. Waiting Used Trade Paper $3.50

Related Subjects


Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Fugitive Pieces Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780679776598 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Anne Michaels has created a world of stunning, heartbreaking clarity where even the unspeakable is captured in the light-web of her words. She is a superb poet, a breath-stopping storyteller."
"Review" by , "This extraordinarily beautiful novel is a world. A book miraculously created because it mends the hopeless and dances with loss. Trust and read it."
"Synopsis" by , A New York Times Notable Book of the YearWinner of the Lannan Literary Fiction AwardWinner of the Guardian Fiction AwardIn 1940 a boy bursts from the mud of a war-torn Polish city, where he has buried himself to hide from the soldiers who murdered his family. His name is Jakob Beer. He is only seven years old. And although by all rights he should have shared the fate of the other Jews in his village, he has not only survived but been rescued by a Greek geologist, who does not recognize the boy as human until he begins to cry. With this electrifying image, Anne Michaels ushers us into her rapturously acclaimed novel of loss, memory, history, and redemption.As Michaels follows Jakob across two continents, she lets us witness his transformation from a half-wild casualty of the Holocaust to an artist who extracts meaning from its abyss. Filled with mysterious symmetries and rendered in heart-stopping prose, Fugitive Pieces is a triumphant work, a book that should not so much be read as it should be surrendered to.
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




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 Powells.com.