Reading guide for Spider Love Song and Other Stories by Nancy Au

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Spider Love Song and Other Stories

by Nancy Au

Spider Love Song and Other Stories by Nancy Au X
Spider Love Song and Other Stories by Nancy Au
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    Oct 2019, 184 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. Many of the stories in the collection explore the theme of family. In "The Richmond," for example, the daughter must contend with violence that she does not yet understand, with forced flight from one's home country, with stories told by her parents about historical events that are complex and unfathomable to the eleven-year-old. How are the characters impacted by immigration, or language, or questions of identity? What patterns emerge in these intergenerational relationships?
  2. Damselflies, dragons, slugs, beetles, dogs, turtles, and more. There are many animals and insects that inhabit the pages of this collection. How are nonhuman creatures used in the stories? What do they add to the narratives?
  3. Explore May's relationship with Lai in "Louise." Or, explore Lai's relationship with the duck. What future do you see for the couple? Why does Lai want to adopt Louise? Why doesn't May?
  4. Imaginations are used in many of the stories, as a form of strength, comfort, solace for the characters. How does Sophie use her imagination in the title story, "Spider Love Song," to cope with the disappearance of her parents? What would happen if she did not have her imagination to turn to?
  5. What do you think happened to Sophie's parents in "Spider Love Song"? What clues did you find woven into the story?
  6. In "Little Harlot," the protagonist and her older cousin, Lin, search through the belongings of their relatives during the grandmother's memorial reception dinner. What is Lin searching for? Why does the protagonist join her?
  7. "This Is Me" explores the mind and imagination and memories of an elderly woman named Mrs. Lee. What happened to her husband? Where does she really want to live—with her husband in their current home, or with her daughter, or in the elder-care facility? Whom does she trust?
  8. In "How to Become Your Own Odyssey, or The Land of Indigestion," Edmund's father sleepwalks and sleep-eats. What is he telling Edmund with his dreams? What do you imagine Edmund will find when he returns to the darkened house without his light?
  9. In the final story of the collection, the protagonist helps Bell to "seizure" after Bell's grandmother passes away. What do you think Bell saw in her seizure dream? Why was she smiling?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Acre Books. 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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