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#Writing#WriterGroups

  • Discussion Guide: The Fire Escape Stories, Volumes I&II

    It is always my honor to discuss my work with book groups. I am frequently asked if there are certain questions and/or topics that the group members should consider in advance of our session. Following is a guide that I have developed after the many discussion sessions I have led. I hope you find it helpful in your conversations! If you would like permission to distribute hard copies or digital copies of this guide, or if you would like to arrange for a book group discussion, please simply email me at chuckwrites@hyahoo.com. Thank you...and enjoy reading!--Chuck

     

    DISCUSSION GUIDE FOR—

    THE FIRE ESCAPE STORIES, VOLUMES I & II

    By Chuck Cascio

    1) What does the opening episode of Volume I imply beyond what is stated in the text?

    2) Have you ever sat on a fire escape? What did it feel like to you? What did you do there? If you have not ever sat on a fire escape, based on Volumes I&II what is the closest comparison you can make from your own life?

    3) What does the fire escape symbolize in these stories? Does the symbol change over time? If so, what does it come to symbolize?

    4) Describe how you picture the main characters--the narrator (Mikey), Sally-Boy, Big Sal, Massimo, and any others who stand out to you.

    5) Single out one secondary character whose role seems particularly significant in her/his impact on the boys' lives.

     

    nine episodes that make up Mike Burnss strongest childhood memories of living in Brooklyn New York in the 1950s. 2 2

     

    6) When Mike's family moves at the end of Volume I, what concerns for him  and expectations do you have of him as the family drives out of Brooklyn?

    7) How does the tone of the narration change in Volume II and what is the impact of that change on the reader?

    8) What does the narrator's reaction to various life events in Volume II such as racism, discovering that his neighbor is a female, seeing the increasing popularity of the Panificio and Sally-Boy's reaction to it, the JFK assassination, etc. affect you as the reader? How do those events seem to be shaping Mike's life?

    9) Identify at least three subtle events and/or passages that are most telling about the split occurring between the lives of the two boys.

    10) Has the fire escape saved anyone in these stories, symbolically or otherwise? Or does the fire escape imply the failure of attempts to save lives that are impacted by forces either outside of their control or forces that people refuse to accept?

    Copyright, Chuck Cascio, all rights reserved. For permission to make or distribute copies of this guide, please email chuckwrites@yahoo.com.

  • READING AND DISCUSSION GUIDE: The Fire Escape Belongs in Brooklyn

    Reading and Discussion Guide for
    THE FIRE ESCAPE BELONGS IN BROOKLYN
    By
    Chuck Cascio

    NOTE: If you would like  to discuss any of these items with me, please email me at chuckwrites@yahoo.com.

     
    1) What is the tone established in the Prologue and Chapters 1-3? How does it contribute to the story arc and how does it tie to Volumes I&II?
     
    2) Throughout much of the book, Mike "talks" to Sally-Boy. Do his "conversations" and recollections seem to calm Mike or do they seem to cause an increased sense of despair and desperation?
     
    3) Chapters 8-11 are often referred to as indicative of a turning point in Mike's thinking. If you agree with that position, what are some of the specifics that occur in those chapters that imply a change and is that change a sign of maturation or further frustration or both?
     
    4) Chapters 12-19 immerse readers in several realities that Mike and others of his generation face. Consider Mike's initial reaction to Erica, how his feelings develop, and what elements of his nature seem to be emerging. At the same time, consider what his roommate, Fish, is like and how interactions with Darrell Bingham affect them both and, also, what Bingham seems to represent.
     
    5) Chapter 20 ties together several elements of life during the Vietnam Era upon which much of the book focuses. Of those elements, what emerges as having the greatest impact of that time and which, if any of those elements, still seem prevalent today?
     
    66516041_High_Resolution_Front_Cover_7205575.jpg
     
     
    6) As relationships emerge and develop between Mike and Erica and Fish and Katie, what aspects of their personalities seem to come through most prominently. Which, if any, of those aspects seem positive and which, if any, seem troubling to you?
     
    7) Chapters 31-33 move the reader from a party where the song "Satisfaction" has a real and symbolic role to deeper thinking on Mike's part about where he is headed. What are some of the key scenes (if any) that indicate to you a change in the depth of the characters and what are some of the implications of those changes?
     
    8) As the storyline develops, the role of Professor Staunton emerges as more prominent as does the impact of the Vietnam War. These elements combine to result in decisions that some people might consider heroic and others might consider objectionable. How do you feel about the decisions the characters make both in context of the story and in reality?
     
    9) Chapter 48 focuses on a ferry ride that Mike and Erica take. What do you think of the character development in that chapter? Do you see any foreshadowing of what is to come?
     
    10) Chapters 49-53 are filled with character elements that move the story to various points of dramatic conclusion. What is unexpected? What did you anticipate? How were you affected by the different events that impact the characters?
     
    11) In the Epilogue, do you feel that Mike has resolved his issues with Sally-Boy's disappearance? Do you think that Mike does justice to Sally, or is there more that he should do and, if so, what should it be?
     

    Copyright: Chuck Cascio, all rights reserved.