ALU Book Club: #teamALU talks Two-Gun & Sun (+ discussion questions)

July 13, 2016

Last week, we took an in-depth look at our July book club pickTwo-Gun & Sun. This week, we hunkered down with a not-insignificant amount of candy and discussed the book amongst ourselves – and the fruits of that conversation are available for your listening pleasure. In addition, do download our discussion questions, so that you can carry on talking Two-Gun with your own reading group.

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Last week, we took  an in-depth look at our July book club pickTwo-Gun & SunThis week, we hunkered down with a not-insignificant amount of candy and discussed the book amongst ourselves – and the fruits of that conversation are available for your listening pleasure, via Soundcloud. In addition, do download our discussion questions (in handy printable format), so that you can carry on talking Two-Gun with your own reading group. Warning: spoilers ahead!

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1. How are women treated in Black Mountain? For Lila, is the treatment consistent with her previous life experiences? Is it consistent with other women in the town?

"The [saloon workers] were not naive. They had more of an awareness of what was going on in the town, and had a knowledge of secret rules." –Natasha

"They didn't seem put off by the fact that she was a woman [running a newspaper]...they were willing to look after her and the things that she needs, but they never said 'You're a woman, you can't do this.'" –Tanya

"There's kind of a sexism, I guess. A paternalistic sexism." –Lauren


2. Why does Lila seem to identify as, and with, those deemed “other”? Does she attempt to fit in?

"Lila herself is often put into the role of the other. In her family life, she becomes "other" as soon as she goes through puberty, because she lives in a family of men. And that seems to continue when she moves to Black Mountain." –Tanya

"'Others' are permitted so long as they play ball...the sex workers fit into the economy of the town, as does the newspaper, until it starts reporting on mining disasters." –Lauren

"It's interesting that she aligns herself with Two-Gun, as he also doesn't have a place to which he belongs." –Natasha


3. As a contemporary work of historical fiction, how does Two-Gun & Sun deal with instances of racism? How does Hutton explain historical events and aspects of daily life to the reader?

"When Lila first arrives...maybe she's never met a Chinese person before? I find her an interesting lens to be viewing these new people and experiences from. There are characters that do express racist views...that kind of pushes against her own feelings, because realizing that you share feelings with anyone so obviously vile makes you question yourself." –Tan

"Lila's a great character and an authentic character, because there's a reality of not being exposed to other community groups...she's not a hate-filled person or a naive person, she's just an honest person." –Tan

"It allows a modern reader a good way into historical fiction that deals with allows us to go on that journey with [Lila]." –Tanya


4. How does the book borrow from dramatic themes, specifically Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West (the opera performed in Black Mountain)?

"I don't know if you guys go to the opera, I go builds until there's suddenly all this action happening, and that's similar to the book." –Lauren

"There's a deadline looming over them constantly." –Tan

"[Lila] had to perform at times, and so did Vincent...they were both performers, in a way. Even Two-Gun, we didn't know who he was at first." –Natasha


5. What is the role of the newspaper in Black Mountain life? What liberties do its citizens take?

"The town is kind of depraved? The guys are just working in the mine, and then going to the ladies." –Natasha

"Even with the mine, you think that would be bringing a lot of money into the town...but where is that money going? There's no high-society." –Tanya

"There was no point to the airship, other than to reinforce that Lila has no place in a modern world." –Tan


6. How do the historical figures of Morris “Two-Gun” Cohen and Sun Yat-Sen factor into the narrative? How do they affect Lila’s growth as a character?

"With Two-Gun wearing white clothes in a place called Black Mountain, and with Sun representing the sun they never get to see...they represent light and also a kind of hope." –Natasha

"[The book] is almost a prequel for what goes on with [Two-Gun and Sun] in real life." –Tanya

"Two-Gun is an unlikely hero, which Lila can put a lot of weight into...He kind of writes his own history and Lila enjoys him, in spite of herself." –Lauren

"He's accepted as an ally almost completely in Lousetown, but he's not entirely not accepted in Black Mountain either...I think that's ultimately what Lila wants." –Tan





#teamALU getting our convo on (with hand motions).

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Remember: we’ll be reading and discussing Two-Gun & Sun all July long! Don’t miss our exclusive interview with June Hutton July 20th – in fact, send us your questions for June in the comments below, on Twitter ( @alllitupcanada), or at


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