Reading guide for Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

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Bull Mountain

by Brian Panowich

Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich X
Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2015, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2016, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. The novel begins with the word "family," and the powerful scenes that follow signal the importance of familial bonds—and rifts—in this novel. Discuss the role of family in the story. To which characters is it most important? Is family defined by blood or by something else?
  2. There are two key female protagonists in the novel: Kate and Marion. What did you think of these two women? What were their most distinctive characteristics? How does each disrupt the balance of the Burroughs family?  
  3. Consider the narrative structure of Bull Mountain, which is told in chapters that alternate between characters and time periods. Why do you think the author chose to tell the story in this way? Did the structure enhance any particular part of the story for you (e.g., the suspense, characterization)?
  4. Clayton Burroughs and Simon Holly have more in common than initially meets the eye, but they're also very different men who choose divergent paths. What drove each man? Why did each make the choices he made, for good or for ill?
  5. Brian Panowich brings to the novel a strong sense of place, and Bull Mountain becomes a character in itself, a dynamic setting that means different things to different people. What role does it play? What does the mountain mean to Clayton? What about to Kate, Simon, or Halford?
  6. Clayton and Kate have the most functional romantic relationship in the novel, and yet even they have big ups and downs. How would you describe their marriage? How has being with Kate changed Clayton, and vice versa? To what extent does Clayton's family influence their relationship?
  7. In addition to the main characters, the novel is peppered with a rich and colorful cast of people, such as Bracken, Val, Scabby Mike, Choctaw, Cricket, and others. Which secondary character was your favorite, and why? Did any stand out to you for the humor or depth they brought to the narrative?
  8. Through the course of the novel, several characters pursue a course of vengeance. How is revenge depicted in the novel? Is it worth it?  Is it ever just? How is it different for each character?
  9. Bull Mountain contains elements of crime fiction, family saga, and Southern gothic. How would you categorize the novel? What fiction might it be compared to?
  10. What did you think of the ending? Were you surprised?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of G.P. Putnam's Sons. 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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