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Discussion: So Brave, Young, and Handsome

Welcome to week one of our discussion of Leif Enger’s So Brave, Young, and Handsome! We’re so very glad that you’re here. Please speak up, share your thoughts, and pose additional questions to the group. Your voice matters. For the over-achievers in the class who’ve read ahead, let’s agree to keep conversation within the boundaries of the reading schedule—i.e., no spoilers in the comments! Thanks in advance for waiting on the rest of us.

Discussion Part One: “A Thousand a Day”

In the opening pages, the narrator gives an orientation of his writing career and family, and we’re given glimpses of his longings and fears. Out of the mist rows a mysterious vagabond, whose presence sets the action of the story into motion. When Redstart, the narrator’s son, is talking with his parents and insisting that the stranger would indeed be joining them for dinner, he explains,

He told me his name. He didn’t want to say it, but I tricked him and out it came. You know what happens, once you get a person’s name. . . Why, then you have power over him. —p.9

1. What do you think he means? What other stories come to mind?

2. Do you think it’s significant that we learn the narrator’s name only after this conversation takes place? What other passages refer to the importance of name?

3. What themes do you see being introduced?

A line only gets grace when it curves, you know. –p.19

4. What images/stories does this bring to mind?

5. What does this tell us about Glendon? What insight do we get from Becket’s response?

Let the discussion begin, and don’t be shy with questions of your own.

Bonus questions: The novel is set in 1915. What was the state of the country at that time? The state of the world? The state of American literature in which Monty is a sudden hit?


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