Reading guide for The Astral by Kate Christensen

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Astral

A Novel

by Kate Christensen

The Astral
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2011, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2012, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Guidarini

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Harry Quirk's obsession with his imploding marriage forms a central arc in The Astral.  Do you trust his narrative of the marriage and its dissolution?  How does your opinion of him evolve as you read the novel?

  2. Luz is convinced that Harry is sleeping with Marion.  Although her accusations of sexual intimacy are unfounded, Harry and Marion are very close friends.  Do you think that it is possible to commit emotional infidelity, and if so, is Harry guilty of it?  How would you define an "emotional affair"?

  3. In Chapter Fourteen, Harry visits his wife's therapist, Helen.  What do you make of Harry's animosity towards her?  Why do you think the author included this confrontation?

  4. Harry's work-in-progress, "an epic poem of loss and displacement," is titled The Astral.  How does this echo the symbolic role of The Astral apartment building in the novel?

  5. During the course of the novel, Harry and Karina pay several visits to Hector at the Sag Harbor compound.  How do these experiences compare, and what do they contribute to our understanding of Hector and his situation?  Do you think Hector is a true believer of the Children of Hashem cult, or is he an opportunist like his older consort Christa?

  6. The Astral portrays a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, rapidly changing Brooklyn of artists, artisans, immigrants, and long-settled locals.  Discuss the tensions inherent in such a quilt of social types.  How does the author portray the interactions between immigration and gentrification?

  7. Kate Christensen once wrote an influential essay titled "Loser Lit" in praise of such books as Lucky Jim, A Confederacy of Dunces, Jernigan and Wonder Boys, whose books center on self-defeating characters whose often comic misadventures as they slide to the bottom have garnered these novels fervent cult followings. To what extent do you think Harry Quirk qualifies as a Loser Lit antihero?

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

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Freeganism

One Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Book That Matters Most
    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers appreciated the innovative structure of The Book That Matters ...
  • Book Jacket: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers were uniformly impressed by this difficult yet heartwarming ...
  • Book Jacket: Boy Erased
    Boy Erased
    by Garrard Conley
    Growing up in rural Arkansas, Garrard Conley did not quite fit the mold of his strait-laced, ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood

    An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets and friendship.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    by Bryn Greenwood

    A memorable coming-of-age tale about loyalty, defiance, and the power of love.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.