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Discussion Week 2: "The Old Desperate"

This is week two of our discussion of Leif Enger’s So Brave, Young, and Handsome.

Week 2 – “The Old Desperate”

In “The Old Desperate,” Glendon and Monte embark on their adventure toward Mexico. Each interaction with the folks they meet along the way—Samuel Cobb of the Globe, Mr. Franco the waiter, Detective Davies and his wife Celia, and their granddaughter Emma—is revealing. Incriminating details begin to surface about Glendon’s convoluted past. His response to being exposed is telling of his character. Monte’s required attendance at the Davies’ dinner party plays a similar, yet more subtle, role in giving us insight into both Monte’s inner turmoil and his deeper longings.

“The charges are bigger than you imagine,” he replied. Morever, they are true. There is no forgiveness for me under the law . . .” says Glendon. – p. 40

1) If Glendon had expanded on that statement, what do you think he would have said? Give it a shot—2-3 sentences max.

2) What response did his comment evoke from you? Have you ever been at a similar place in life?

I [Monte] smiled and Royal Davies nodded, “You’re doing these youngsters no service, you know . . . You authors, I mean—this world ain’t no romance, in case you didn’t notice.” “So I am discovering.” I replied. It was, I suppose, the expected wry answer, and made my host chuckle, but now I am taking it back. I take issue with Royal, much as I came to like him; violent and doomed as this world might be, a romance, it certainly is.” – p.43

3) How do you think Davies was defining “romance”? How about Monte?

4) Why did Monte default to the “expected answer” both here and in the conversation with Celia Davies regarding the author Boyd Singleton Ample?

5) At the end of “The Old Desperate,” Emma shows Monte a list of her favorite books. He calls it “a peep into her life” and responds by asking her, “Have you a favorite character among all these?” If someone wanted to peep into your life, what books would they see on your shelves, and who is your favorite character?

Bonus Question: What shifts in American literature were taking place in 1915? How is the literary environment relevant to the story?


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