ALU Book Club: #teamALU talks A Gentle Habit (+ discussion questions)

August 10, 2016

We're well into our second ALU Book Club pick, A Gentle Habit. Last week we introduced the title and got some insider information from the publisher and today we're sharing our #teamALU discussion of the stories. We once again sat down with lots of candy to talk about the various aspects of the collection: from the bodily urges of the characters to the vivid yet subtle descriptions of the settings.

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We're well into our second ALU Book Club pick, A Gentle Habit. Last week we introduced the title and got some insider information from the publisher and today we're sharing our #teamALU discussion of the stories. We once again sat down with lots of candy to talk about the various aspects of the collection: from the bodily urges of the characters to the vivid yet subtle descriptions of the settings. Once we got going we had lots to say about this interesting collection so read the highlights below, listen via Soundcloud, and then download our discussion questions (in handy printable format), so you can carry on talking A Gentle Habit with your own reading group. Warning: spoilers ahead!

 

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1. The characters in A Gentle Habit live fairly banal lives. How do their habits and addictions affect their lives? Are the characters able to find a release from their obsessions? Does this affect your satisfaction levels with the stories as a reader?

“[A Gentle Habit] expands the idea of what could be a habit or addiction to benign or banal everyday things and she [Cherie] takes them that little bit further, which shows you how they can easily spiral out of control.” –Tanya

“They’re disruptive even though they’re all simple things… it’s consuming” –Lauren

2. Each of the main characters in A Gentle Habit is quite different. What are some of their commonalities?

“They’re lonely, they seem to do a lot of introspection as well as observing everybody around them.” –Lauren

“They are all very singular characters and there are no secondary characters in their lives.” –Barb

“Even when their friends are discussed, they don’t have a lot of agency… they’re just kind of there, they don’t do a lot for the characters.” –Tan

3. Parents play a secondary role in many of the stories. How are they portrayed? How does the relationship between parent and child affect the main characters?

“His [Jay] mom actively tries to help him in her own way… but he just doesn’t want to hear it because she hasn’t been a good role model for him, and he’s a teenage boy. ” –Tanya

“There’s a lot of parents who just check out of their roles.” –Tan

“He’s [Mike] quite absentee. He performs all the functions of a parent… but his mind is completely elsewhere.” –Lauren

4. There’s a very visceral aspect to this collection. Do the details of bodily urges create a connection between the character and the reader? How is sexuality portrayed by various characters in the collection?

“They’re completely body driven, which is kind of refreshing in a way because so many authors make their characters so cerebral and they’re doing everything rationally because their brain told them to.” –Lauren

“It’s a really good way to create a connection on a baser level to a character quickly… you feel closer to any character who farts in front of you.” –Barb

5. How does the author’s writing style complement the short story format? Does this make the stories successful?

“I want to see that man’s [Jericho] movie!” –Tan

“She has a very unique voice in the way she describes things. It’s a clear thread throughout the collection.” –Tanya

“She [Cherie] gets right to the quick of it: which is get into that tension and give us great characters.” –Lauren

 

 

 

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Remember: we’ll be reading and discussing A Gentle Habit all August long! Don’t miss our exclusive interview with Cherie Dimaline August 17th – in fact, send us your questions for Cherie in the comments below, on Twitter ( @alllitupcanada), or at hello@alllitup.ca.


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