Four Questions for Possibility


I wrote earlier about my challenges with starting the group. Now I’ve made good on my promise to come up with a few examples for starting the group. All four fail on one level or another, but the group needs to be started. Let me know what you think, and I’d be head over heals happy if you would write one or two or ten of your own below. Thanks.

We’ll be discussing NW at BookPeople this Sunday at 5pm.

1) Epigraph’s are always interesting to me. NW opens with two lines from John Ball. The subject of the lines are interesting, and what is said is  confusing in a wonderful way, but my question is about the formality of the poetry and the fact that the lines contain two declarative statements followed by a question. NW is a heavily structured novel, how does Ball’s poetry prepare us for what comes next? How does form function in this novel and in this poem?

2) We haven’t talked about titles very often. I think it’s one of those things in the Book Group Manual. Talk about titles first or last, but talk about titles always. We don’t follow that rule. But NW is such a particular title that I hope we’ll talk about it first. Any thoughts on what tiles should do, and on what NW does do? Does the perfect mixture of specificity and vagueness reflect the novel?

3) “I am the sole author of the dictionary that defines me.” Smith sort of riffs on this statement. What is the effect of the riffs, and what are the implications of this statement?

4) Smith’s writing style is to start at page one and end at the end. She doesn’t piece together books. So she spends a lot of time starting books. She messes with form and POV and style at the start, then figures out what this book will be, and continues from there. Her first three books could have been a hundred things, but they were all the same, and she seems sad when she talks about them in that way. NW is different, and I couldn’t be happier for her. Now, what do we think about that difference?


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