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June 22, 2006

Filed under: fiction»litcrit

Down the Mountain

This month's book for discussion by the Coterie of Frustrated Intellectuals is Cory Doctorow's Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. I admit to being conflicted about this book, which is why I picked it. As is customary for our book club, I'm asking the other readers to keep in mind, and be prepared to answer, the following questions:

  1. For the odd family at the center of the book, "Alan" and his brothers, their names are fluid and unfixed (Adam, Andy, Alex, Arthur...). Why? And what is the importance of the alphabet?
  2. A significant portion of Someone Comes to Town is taken up with a hair-brained wireless networking scheme--the kind of thing that, in real life, Cory Doctorow spent a lot of time championing. Does the network fulfill a non-gratuitous story purpose? If so, what is it?
  3. Although it's set in a very contemporary scene, this book would seem to fall more into the genre of magical realism. There are many unbelievable events and characters largely treated as if they were unremarkable or mundane. What are the parallels between this book and the folklore tradition to which it sometimes returns?
  4. Precognition and destiny play a role in the resolution of Someone Comes to Town, but how big a role?
  5. Compared to many of the other characters, Alan seems pretty normal. Is he really? What sets him apart?

More questions will probably be ready by the time we meet, but these seem like good starting places for someone to explore the themes of Someone Comes to Town.

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