Saturday, February 18, 2012

Book Club Discussion Questions for Inertia

If you're reading Inertia in your book club, here are some questions for sparking discussion around the book, its themes and its characters. Enjoy!

  1. Tait makes reference early on to “the first question” and returns to the concept in the final pages of the novel. What is “the first question,” and what, ultimately, is her character’s answer to that question?
  2. Is Inertia a novel about reincarnation? Angels? Spirit guides? Try to encapsulate what Tait suggests about the young female characters in her novel (Kenya, Sam, Athena, and Mia, Grace, Lydia).
  3. Are Mia, Grace and Lydia aware of their unique roles in Jake’s life? What is Phyllis’ take on this subject?
  4. Tait clearly chooses the title Inertia for its relevance to the story on multiple levels. Name some of those levels and discuss the symbolic and actual meanings of the title with regard to each.
  5. Through the lens of what is ultimately a love story, and from two different perspectives, Tait explores the experience of losing loved ones, specifically young loved ones. What are the end results of this exploration? Does she offer any answers? Any reasoning for such life experiences?
  6. Why does Tait choose to open her novel with the poem “Maybe There is Nothing Special Going On” by Victoria Redel?  What is its relevance to Inertia’s story and characters? To its overarching themes?
  7. Revisit Jake’s poem to Athena, presented in the end of Chapter 4, and consider its meaning in light of Jake’s suggestion that “in a way it is [a love poem]. It’s like I wrote it for myself. For today.”
  8. What is the effect of having two different first person narrators? The choice is stylistic and has been employed by many writers (Faulkner, Woolf and, more recently, Kingsolver, to name a few). Why do you think Tait makes this choice for Inertia?
  9. Revisit Adrienne Rich’s poem “Diving Into the Wreck,” which Tait’s character Angela references heavily in Chapter 16. In what ways is Angela’s trip to Hawaii the enactment of “diving into [her] own wreck”? What are the symbolic implications of the poem and, specifically, of seeing Jake’s face “peering back at [her] from within”?
  10. What are the questions that Inertia raises for you? Have you had experiences in your life where you felt like the super-real and the real were intertwined in some way?  Moments when you paused and wondered if you hadn’t just felt the “ethereal traces of one who [had] gone from [you]”?

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