Discussion Topics This Crisis

Questions for Discussions on This Crisis, These Blessings:

    1. In False prophets, angels and Madonna, the writer says women should:“Be complex.
      Be unfinished.
      Fly like angels anyway.”What does that mean?
    2. In Crisis, wedding, whenever the writer comes close to describing a horrible scene, she interrupts her own narrative with lyrical thoughts, such as “A crisis is a whirl of stars.”Does that make the main narrative any more or less true? Is the narrator unreliable? Is the writer trying to protect the reader? Is the writer trying to make the reader see the story inside a larger story?
    3. In Washerwomen, blessings, when you hear these words, what do you feel?

      Hold onto the fringe of your friend’s skirt.
      Hold onto the hair of that girl next to you in your naked dream.

    4. In Shame, the writer says, “To say that women have maternal instincts is to objectify us. Our instinct may be to leave our children if they get in the way of other love. Our instinct is to prop them up with pillows, and a baby bottle of juice with a touch of vodka so that they will sleep while we go out”. However, in Crisis, wedding, the writer says, “Women offer fruit pies, unconditional love, and reachable stars. We talk. We listen.” The writer is saying there is no such thing as maternal instinct, yet she is portraying women as loving, attentive bakers of pie.
      Does maternal instinct exist? Should the writer try to define women?
    5. What does the title Death before dishonour mean? Why does the author invoke street gangs and heores such as Prometheus? By pairing these heroes with everyday heroes such as Miguel (a boy who brings the author flowers) what might the writer be saying?
    6. The writer, in Grapevine, diaspora, claims: “If any of us had noticed a volunteer almond tree, which had sprung free from a failed orchard long ago and planted itself alone, and if any of us had seen the white lace of its blossoms and smelled its reassuring confectionery scent, we would have been content.”Can a writer speak for everyone?
  1. In Shame, the author admits: “My writing used to suffer from objectifying tendencies… My first poem was dangerously full of “purple prose” and had stereotypical, weeping, starving children and a sunset. (Or, was it a dawn?)”By the end of the book, does the author help the reader connect with authentic characters?

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