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For Discussion

Thinking through the tiers and layers of a good story after completing it “finishes” the experience, actually buffs and shines it and reveals its deeper luster. The right questions can provide the keys to everything.

  • What is Carlos discovering about language in A Thousand Voices?
  • Are Jeri’s discoveries different? Yours?
  • How many people tell the story?
  • Consider the ways the characters tell the story. What is the effect?
  • Who wins and who loses?
  • Or are there clear winners and losers?
  • Name the many identities of Carlos.
  • Does Jeri have a few identities herself?
  • What is the effect of the various settings on you—Ogden, Montreal, the historical background?
  • What are the social values that come to your attention in the story?
  • Have those social values changed much today?
  • What would you say about “the historical moment of upheaval and change” referred to in the book.
  • What for want of a better phrase, are the gifts of multiplicity seen in the book?
  • What keeps this from being a sentimental memoir?
  • Does A Thousand Voices change your view of life? You?
  • Contrast the two doctors. What do you learn about Carlos and Jeri from them? About yourself?
  • Do you agree that the concept of sacrifice is conspicuously absent from A Thousand Voices?
  • As Jeri makes her discoveries about the history of the land and what it teaches her, did you find yourself making your own?
  • Why does Lilly let Carlos go to Jeri?
  • What is the basis for the friendship between Carlos and Jeri? Lilly and Jeri?
  • What are the aesthetic rewards of the book? (Remember aesthetic is the opposite of anesthetic.)
  • Find a word that can hold the whole story in its reach, that can embrace the soul of the book. This should put you right at the heart of its theme, the word we all feared.

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