The book selection for the Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group for October is Moonglow by Michael Chabon. This is a novel of truth and lies, family legends, and existential adventure---and the forces that work to destroy us.
In 1989, fresh from the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon traveled to his mother's home in Oakland, California, to visit his terminally ill grandfather. Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession of a man the narrator refers to only as "my grandfather."
It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and marriage and desire, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at midcentury, and, above all, of the destructive impact--and the creative power--of keeping secrets and telling lies.
A lie that tells the truth, a work of fictional nonfiction, an autobiography wrapped in a novel disguised as a memoir, Moonglow is Chabon at his most moving and inventive. (From the publisher.)
The idea of storytelling provides the novel's frame. Its opening words, "This is how I heard the story," are echoed in its closing sentence, in which the dying grandfather is imagined "sculling along the surface of the sea of pain a little nearer to his story's end or maybe...toward the story on the opposite shore that was waiting to begin." (pg 428) Why does the grandfather urge the narrator to "write it down" at the end of the book?
Many readers and even reviewers have taken Moonglow at face value as a memoir. How did you feel about the novel's form of a false memoir. Did you find it unsettling? What are the expectations that you bring to a memoir and fiction?
How does the grandfather's admiration for, and disillusionment with Wernher von Braun impact the novel? What happens to the grandfather's rage when he finally meets Wernher von Braun?
What are the assumptions and beliefs that the narrator brings when he speaks with his grandfather? How and why do they change over the course of the novel?
What do you think is the significance of the novel's title? What is the significance of the recurring motif of the moon?
Let us know what you think of Moonglow.
Welcome to the KPL Book Club Blogspot
Welcome to the internet home of the Kilbourn Public Library (KPL) Book Club. The KPL Book Club meets at the library once a month. A book is chosen for each month and then members of the book club meet the last Monday and Wednesday of every month for lively discussion and treats. While we can’t offer you treats via the internet, this KPL Reads blog was designed for those of you who would like to participate in the book club but don’t have time to join us at meetings. Each month KPL staff will post discussion topics and questions to get you “talking”. Join in the discussion by adding a post to the blog. Click on the word comments below the post you want to "talk" about and write your comment. Be sure to check back often to see feedback and comments.