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A prize-winning playwright's brilliant first novel unfolds in a strikingly unconventional way--as a young hemophiliac describes his baptism by violence in the rural south. "Tell everyone. I have rarely read anything as powerful. It is altogether marvelous, so beautifully written I wanted to steal it and pretend it was mine."--Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina.
2. Discuss the unconventional way in which Winter Birds unfolds -- I)anny telling his own story to himself. What does it bring to the narrative that a more conventional way of storytelling could not?
3. What does the title "Winter Birds" mean? Did you relate it to the opening scene in the book when the boys are shooting birds? What is the metaphor?
4. How does the hemophilia of Danny and Grove impact the story and ultimately raise the stakes?
5. The children have nicknamed the cottage they live in "The Circle House." What metaphor(s) does Grimsley draw from this system of rooms wherein doors open into one room, then into another, then into yet another? How is it especially significant when Bobjay ultimately manages to penetrate the house, despite all Ellen and the children have done to keep him out?
6. It is obvious that Bobjay is a cruel tyrant, terrorizing his family. Discuss the ways in which he is also a victim.
7. Danny watches his mother grow more and more distant as she hides from Bobjay under the house. Grimsley writes: "Maybe it has come to your Mama now: the knowledge that your Papa and her Daddy are the same man, that maybe the feeling your Papa first gave her was no more than that; maybe something in her made her pick Bobjay Crell because he was like the Daddy she had known all her life, and maybe the feeling was never love." How did this possibility affect you? Did you believe this to be true for Ellen? Discuss this psychological phenomenon.
8. When Bobjay kills Queenie and all her unborn pups, whoand what is he really killing, and why?
9. Why do you think Ellen lets Bobjay back into the house and hence, back into their lives that Thanksgiving night, after he has stalked her, hunted her down, and terrorized her children?
10. In the end of the novel, when Grimsley writes: "You are a little boy following your Mama across the field. The grave will be like a channel marker, and when you are there you will know that facts are your only friends." What does he mean? What lesson has Danny learned from his family's circumstances?
Posted April 30, 2012
Posted May 27, 2012
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