Friday, November 5, 2010

TL ~ first set of DQs

This mural by Diego Rivera is in Detroit.  It shows his interest in the workers of the world and also gives us an indication of the wide admiration of Rivera's art.  The story in The Lacuna centers on Harrison Shepherd's connection with Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo. I've read Parts 1, 2, and 3 of the book, most of which is set in Mexico, interrupted by Harrison Shepherd's short stay with his father in Washington, D.C.

1.  Do Harrison's diaries feel realistic to you?  Does he sound like a 12-year-old at the beginning ... and later like a mature man?  What kind of boy was he?  What do you think of him?

2.  What prompts Harrison to begin his journals?  Why does he write?  What does he mean by referring to his notebook as "prisoner's plan for escape"?

3.  How about Harrison's mother?  In what way does her profligate life affect how he decides to lead his own life?

4.  What do you think of the Rivera/Kahlo household?  How does Harrison see Rivera's influence over Kahlo?  Have you seen the 2003 movie Frida?  If so, does that film influence your reading of The Lacuna?  (I hadn't even heard of the movie, but I'm surprised at how much these actors look like the real Diego and Frida.  Click the link to see photos I posted earlier.)

5.  I like Barbara Kingsolver's writing.  In October, I visited the cemetery where my parents are buried; both born in October, they married each other exactly between their birthdays.  When I read this a few days later, I realized my parents are still my family, but I've never thought of it that way.  What do you think?
2 November, Dead People's Day
"Leandro is at the cemetery to put flowers on his dead people: his mother and father, grandmothers, a baby son that died when it was one minute old, and his brother, who died last year.  Leandro said it's wrong to say you don't have a family.  Even if they are dead, you still have them" (p. 32).
6.  Leon Trotsky, born Lev Davidovich Bronstein, was one of the leaders of the Russian October Revolution.  I had intended to ask you why he was called "Lev" in the book, but when I found this photo at Wikipedia, I learned Lev was the name he was born with.  I had never heard that, and the book left me confused about why that name was used.  What do you think of Harrison's assessment of Trotsky, quoted below?  Why do you think things didn't turn out the way Lev anticipated?
"Even in the horror of war, Lev [Trotsky] is optimistic; he says it will make internationalists of us all.  A modernized proletariat will unite, because war so conspicuously benefits rich men and kills the poor ones" (p. 224).
7.   What new things have you learned from reading this book?


Bonnie Jacobs said...

I've posted the first set of questions about The Lacuna.

Shirley said...

I appreciate the research, information, and images that you share. Too bad I didn't know about the mural when I was in Detroit several years ago. Quite impressive.

Since it was several months ago since I read The Lacuna and my memory is slipping, I will just comment on some of the questions.

1. I thought Harrison seemed mature, lonely, intelligent, and insightful throughout the book.

3. I thought that Harrison's mother was self-centered and neglectful of her son.

5. I first read about Dead People's Day in a quilt magazine. Although the holiday seemed morbid at first, after reflecting on it maybe celebrating the life of those who have died would not only allow us to commemorate their lives but serve as a reminder of the importance they have in our lives even though they are no longer alive. After the death of my son three years ago, even though I never really stop thinking of him some of the days that have special meaning are his birthday, death day, and Christmas. I commemorate those days by sending gifts to families that I know are in need (some have been temporary such as the nephew of a friend who was saving to buy a headstone for his mother) while others are long term needs. Perhaps having a national day of remembering the deaths of loved ones in a festive way would help me even more as I cope with my loss.