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1. What is the enduring significance of the teenage boxing match between Graham and Elliot? Why did their father insist on it, and what did the two boys take from it into their future lives?
2. In the first chapter, Pogey elaborates on the style triangle at the heart of boxing, comparing it to rock, paper, scissors: three approaches “locked in relation to one another.” Consider the tensions and balances at play in this theory and the numerous other triangles referred to in the novel, such as those at the heart of the design at 55 Mary Street, in personal relationships or the “half man half fish half bird” who visits Esther.
3. What kind of a man was Packer Gordon? As an architect? As a father?
4. Discuss the parallels made in the novel between the Story House at 55 Mary Street and the Haida settlements of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii). For instance, why do Graham and even Elliot imagine the Story House as a longhouse, in form and/or function?
5. Having children is a major topic in the novel – for Graham and Esther, who try and fail, for Elliot and Deirdre, whose lives are changed by the arrival of the twins, for Packer Gordon, who fathers two boys with different women. Discuss the importance of children in Story House – for instance, how childbirth changes people (or doesn’t), the various mothers and fathers or how inheritance (material or genetic) comes into play.
6. Just as he did in his first novel, Stanley Park, Taylor brings the city of Vancouver vividly onto the page in Story House: the green-glass towers and new money of Yaletown, the natural beauty of elite Deep Cove,the crumbling stonework and tragic lives of the Downtown Eastside. Discuss Taylor’s ability to evoke a sense of place, whether the many sides of Vancouver or other locales: Seoul, Los Angeles, Haida Gwaii.
7. Why did the Story House at 55 Mary Street collapse?
8. Talk about the importance of filmmaking and the effect it has on various characters. What do you think Taylor is saying about “reality” TV and encapsulated human experience in this novel?
9. Is there a comparison to be made between the behind-the-scenes moneymen in TV production and the mysterious Uncles of Elliot’s world?
10. Do Taylor’s characters feel that they can reclaim the past by collecting or buying pieces of it, or by “preserving” a building? Discuss how Taylor treats nostalgia in this novel, whether for times long past – the heyday of Packer Gordon’s designs, the height of Haida culture, the glory years of boxing – or for things like faux-ancient carpets and knock-off Swatches.
11. Why does Esther retreat to the fishing club on Haida Gwaii, twice, and then to her own small island? Why does she feel the need to catch a big fish? What is the significance of her discovering the New Auspicious?
12. Considering that the Story House collapses at the end, and the Haida village of Kiusta was abandoned and left to the elements by its original inhabitants, what do you think Taylor might be saying about the impermanence of our structures, or our desire to prop up and refurbish the past?
13. Twice in the novel (when the young Graham visits Haida Gwaii, and when Esther brings the brothers together to sort out their differences) characters are stricken by the realization that maybe the story houses aren’t trying to tell them anything, but are instead asking a question. What do you think that could mean?
14. How do you feel about what happens to Graham and to Elliot at the end of the novel? Compare their last scenes. And why do you think Taylor ends the novel by bringing Esther and Deirdre together?
15. Discuss the title of the novel, Story House. Can the novel itself be considered a sort of story house?