Reading guide for The Deadwood Beetle by Mylene Dressler

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The Deadwood Beetle

By Mylene Dressler

The Deadwood Beetle
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2001,
    240 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2002,
    242 pages.

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Introduction

Set in contemporary New York, with flashbacks to Nazi-occupied Holland, The Deadwood Beetle is the heartrending story of an old man taking his last chance and struggling toward an elusive redemption and the even more distant hope of love. In pitch-perfect and elegant prose, Dressler weaves a moving story about WWII and its aftermath that is truly different from any other, telling a deeply compassionate story about crippling guilt and the enduring, and very human, hope for love and forgiveness.


Discussion Questions

  1. Loss ripples through this novel. How, in the end, does loss create its opposite?
  2. History has a force all its own in this novel. Would you say Tristan has free will or is he trapped by forces beyond his control?
  3. In this novel, religion and religious beliefs often have negative associations. Is religion or religious belief also a positive thing? Is the author asking where redemption and forgiveness come from?
  4. How does the theme of difference/being different work in this novel? How about the theme of connecting?
  5. This novel deals with what cripples bodies and hearts. How are Tristan and Sandor's situations parallel or different? What does Dressler seem to suggest is most crippling? What does she offer as a balm?
  6. In some ways, this is a novel about academia. How does it present the intellectual life?
  7. Is this a love story?
  8. Craft is as important to this novel as the plot—as is often true for books. But why is this especially the case here?
  9. Cora wants the table to serve as a reminder and warning. In the end, has it?

For more information about other Penguin Readers Guides, please call the Penguin Marketing Department at (800) 778-6425, email at reading@penguinputnam.com or write to us at: Penguin Books, Marketing Department, Readers' Guides, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3657.

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Blue Hen Publishing. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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